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The Day After Independence Day

Sounds like the title of a great movie!  Heh, heh.  Well, I’m still in a nostalgic mood for what our Founding Fathers did on July 4, 1776.  And I caught this item on today’s Heritage Foundation blog.  I hope you find it as inspiring and motivating as I did when I read it this morning.

Happy Birthday America! America is 234 years old. She was born on July 4, 1776, with the passage of the Declaration of Independence.  Since then, America has grown from thirteen colonies on the east coast to fill a vast continent. Her economic and military power is envied around the world. And the American people are hardworking, churchgoing, affluent, and generous.

Independence Day is an opportunity each year to remember the root of our success—our founding principles as set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration of Independence serves as a philosophical statement of America’s first principles. As Matthew Spalding describes, the Declaration affirms that all men are created equal. By nature, men have a right to liberty that is inalienable, meaning it cannot be given up or taken away. And because individuals equally possess such inalienable rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed. The purpose of government is to secure these fundamental rights, and the people retain the right to alter or abolish a government that fails to do so.

These principles have made America the great nation it is today. But, since the early 20th century, these principles have been under attack in the academy, the media, and popular culture. So-called progressives have rejected the existence of self-evident truths—in the Declaration of Independence and elsewhere. Instead, they embrace the notion of “Progress” that is constant change towards an unspecified end. From these faulty principles, it follows that, all men are not created equal; some people are further along in the historical process than others. There are not permanent rights with which man is endowed. Government creates rights, and these rights evolve according to the demands of the time. There is no need for consent of the governed, just experts who will tell us how to live and how to progress.

This is a serious attack on our principles, but not an insurmountable one.

We, The People are in charge.  Our government’s power comes from our consent.  And our rights come from our Creator. Never forget that!

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

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22 Comments

  1. Damn shame we have a president who would disagree with the entire post.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 5, 2010 @ 3:25 pm - July 5, 2010

  2. When a man does nothing to say NO to the government he does not like he IS giving his consent for a continuation of the very thing he dislikes.

    Jefferson placed perhaps the most fundamental right in the Declaration when he listed the ‘Pursuit of Happiness.’ By your very existence you are not ENTITLED to anything but your life. If you want to be happy you must take an ACTIVE part in chasing it. The freedom to chase your dreams comes from God. But you must CHOOSE to take up the chase. It is the pursuit of it that makes life truly worth living in a free and prosperous world of your own making.

    Comment by Delusional Bill — July 5, 2010 @ 5:59 pm - July 5, 2010

  3. Bruce wrote “….And our rights come from our Creator.” Who do you mean by “Creator”? Are you referring to God, or a higher power? What if I believe in multiple Gods — would it be “Creators”?

    Is it possible to be agnostic or atheist, and still be a conservative? Or is being religious, a requirement for being a conservative?

    Just wondering.

    Comment by James — July 5, 2010 @ 10:20 pm - July 5, 2010

  4. See, I told you that conservatives believe in God.

    Our responsibilities come from our Creator as well–which is why gay sexual morality must be rooted in moral absolutes.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 5, 2010 @ 11:20 pm - July 5, 2010

  5. What if I believe in multiple Gods

    Impossible because there is only one God. Now if you want to get into believing other gods, that’s a different story.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 5, 2010 @ 11:48 pm - July 5, 2010

  6. “Impossible because there is only one God.” Well, agnostics and atheists doubt, or don’t believe that there is any God at all.

    So back to my original question, if the belief that “our rights come from our Creator” is a core tenet of American conservatism, is being an agnostic or an atheist incompatible with being a conservative?

    I’m just asking.

    Comment by James — July 6, 2010 @ 1:46 am - July 6, 2010

  7. I can’t see a logical way an atheist or an agnostic could be a conservative. If there are no absolutes, what is there to conserve? And what difference would conserving it make anyway? If you believe that Evolution is the sole and omnipotent Creator of all things from the Big Bang to life to consciousness to self-awareness, then you can only be a progressive and look forward to the next step in evolution.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 6, 2010 @ 1:59 am - July 6, 2010

  8. I’m atheist, and somewhat conservative.
    somewhat on the libertarian side of things, with a live-let-live attitude but politically and especially fiscally conservative. socially less conservative in what I’ll put up with, but rather conservative in what I think works best.

    Comment by JP — July 6, 2010 @ 2:33 am - July 6, 2010

  9. So, do you agree with Nietzsche that without God, all things are permissible? And since there is no Creator to endow us with inalienable rights, where do they come from? Survival of the fittest? If I am Superman, and able to establish my own moral code, why should I care about gay marriage?

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 6, 2010 @ 6:59 am - July 6, 2010

  10. James,

    In all honesty, you do realize that Bruce’s statement “our rights come from our Creator’ comes from this little ditty.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Perhaps you mean to ask ‘is it possible to be an American if one is agnostic or an athiest’?

    Comment by The_Livewire — July 6, 2010 @ 7:16 am - July 6, 2010

  11. I think that because there were differences of belief in God amongst the founding fathers, they were careful about not using the word “God” and used “Creator.”

    I think the point is that rights don’t come from the powerful, rich, and elite. Whatever rights there are, they come from somewhere. If God exists, then I suppose they come from God, but who knows? God most likely is letting us continually try to figure that out. What the founders concluded is that rights are not just limited to a select group of people. And as time went on, it was not limited to non-slaves, and non-women as well, as per amendments.

    If there is a God, and He is the one who grants us our rights, we still have to figure out what they are. So in any case, any moral code is decided by people, whether it’s an interpretation of what they think God grants us, or from some other means. That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s the way it will always be.

    If you believe that Evolution is the sole and omnipotent Creator of all things from the Big Bang to life to consciousness to self-awareness, then you can only be a progressive and look forward to the next step in evolution.

    And yet, there are counterexamples of that all the time. Sorry, Ashpenaz, but not everybody’s thinking has to be as simplistic and, frankly, ridiculous.

    Comment by Pat — July 6, 2010 @ 7:23 am - July 6, 2010

  12. Is it possible to be agnostic or atheist, and still be a conservative? Or is being religious, a requirement for being a conservative?

    James, the answers to those questions are yes, no.

    Livewire, I think the founding fathers answer to your question is a resounding yes.

    Comment by Pat — July 6, 2010 @ 8:28 am - July 6, 2010

  13. Well, agnostics and atheists doubt, or don’t believe that there is any God at all.

    That doesn’t change capitalization rules. If you don’t believe in capitalization, that’s a whole other animal.

    I think the point is that rights don’t come from the powerful, rich, and elite.

    Don’t forget the founders were rejecting the Divine Right of Kings.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 6, 2010 @ 9:42 am - July 6, 2010

  14. James, those answers are no, yes.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 6, 2010 @ 9:50 am - July 6, 2010

  15. So back to my original question, if the belief that “our rights come from our Creator” is a core tenet of American conservatism, is being an agnostic or an atheist incompatible with being a conservative?

    My answer is that, first, a conservative should recognize a distinction between negative rights (e.g., the right to NOT be arrested for voicing unpopular political opinions, or for engaging in consensual adult sodomy on private property) and positive rights (e.g., the right of children to a certain level of education even if their parents are unable to pay, or the right of anyone to receive emergency medical care). And a conservative should treat “negative rights” as though they are birthrights bestowed upon every living human by an omnipotent being who runs the entire universe — even while insisting that “positive rights” are actually negotiable entitlements, and unlike “negative rights,” ought not be treated as inalienable.

    Second, I would say that conservatives who are atheist or agnostic, and who argue that “inalienable rights” can and ought to be defined without reference to such an omnipotent being, should nonetheless have the humility to admit that they are standing on the shoulders of giants. The giants, in this case, being the generations of ancient Jews who invented the concept of “ethical monotheism” — because without the conceptual innovation of a Superbeing who was able to vouchsafe universal human rights, the subsequent innovation of a universal human rights theory that did NOT depend on such a Superbeing might never have happened.

    Comment by Throbert McGee — July 6, 2010 @ 1:23 pm - July 6, 2010

  16. Excellent Post, Thorbert and touches on something I want to reiterate.

    Even if you don’t believe in “wo de ma he ta de fong kung de wai sheng dou” to borrow from Firefly, you have to accept it is the structure of ethics from Western Religion that led to the freedoms we all enjoy.

    Comment by The_Livewire — July 6, 2010 @ 1:44 pm - July 6, 2010

  17. Thanks, Livewire. Although having thought about it, I want to clarify that I myself am an agnostic, and my resolution to the Euthyphro Dilemma is to reject the Divine Command Theory of ethics that Ashpenaz favors.

    Which is a concise way of saying: I believe that even if there is a God, and He indeed declared that some things are Good and some things are Evil, the “methodology” and principles He used to formulate the Good/Evil distinction must, in theory, be independently discoverable by atheists. Thus, assuming that murder is Evil in a universe governed by Ashpenaz’s God, it would still be Evil in a godless universe, and would even still be Evil if Ashpenaz’s God went insane like Divine in Pink Flamingos and said, “I hereby declare that murder is a blessed sacrament — Kill Everyone Now!”

    But even so, like I said — I give credit where it’s due to Judeo-Christian theology. (After all, Socrates’ original phrasing of the Euthyphro Dilemma was rather tepid: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” To my mind, the question becomes far more profound, and is only fully tested, when it is taken from the context of the finite pagan gods and brought into the context of a universe governed by One Supreme Autocrat whose Will is unthwartable.)

    Comment by Throbert McGee — July 6, 2010 @ 4:52 pm - July 6, 2010

  18. Without the Superbeing as the foundation, we have the Superman, the one who establishes his own moral code without concern for the weak. Do please read Thus Sprach Zarathustra. There is no basis for inalienable rights unless God actually exists.

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 6, 2010 @ 4:54 pm - July 6, 2010

  19. A “Superman” who has the foresight to think, “Hmm, what would happen if I should someday find myself in a position of weakness?” may come to the conclusion that it’s in his rational self-interest to define certain rights as inalienable for everyone, without for one second having to postulate the existence of a Superbeing who enforces the “inalienability” in some afterlife tribunal.

    Comment by Throbert McGee — July 6, 2010 @ 5:20 pm - July 6, 2010

  20. Oh, AARGH — I can’t believe I just responded to Ashpenaz. Time for me to turn off the computer and go do something more constructive, like adding a new Rorschach Blot to my special towel.

    Comment by Throbert McGee — July 6, 2010 @ 5:24 pm - July 6, 2010

  21. And another Superman, not so rational, would kill him. By beating him to death with a copy of Atlas Shrugged.

    “adding a new Rorschach Blot to my special towel”

    I do the same thing whenever I see Jason Statham shirtless–who knew responding to one of my posts would be such a turn-on?

    Comment by Ashpenaz — July 6, 2010 @ 7:43 pm - July 6, 2010

  22. Technically, the “passage” of the Declaration of Independence actually happened on July 2, 1776, which is when the vote was held. The signing took place on July 4.

    Comment by Dan L — July 7, 2010 @ 5:48 pm - July 7, 2010

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