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Still Declaring our Independence

Created on July 1, 2009

Still Declaring our Independence

What's on Americans' Minds Reflects Founding Principles

By Ken McIntyre

"Independence forever." Those two words were the whole of John Adams' eloquent toast on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

That was July 4, 1826. How good, on the eve of the Declaration's 233rd anniversary, to hear Americans who keep ringing that bell of liberty.

Amid the political noise out of Washington, June's opinion polls picked up a growing public disquiet over ever-greater government spending and intrusion. These expressions of concern reflect the resiliency of the spirit of 1776, which we celebrate on Independence Day.

The just powers of government, the Declaration of Independence proclaimed on July 4, 1776, flow from the consent of the governed. Government's purpose, the Founders agreed, is to secure the fundamental rights and sovereignty of the people.

Heritage constitutional scholar Matthew Spalding writes:

"The Declaration of Independence announced to the world the unanimous decision of the American colonies to declare themselves free and independent states, absolved from any allegiance to Great Britain. But its greater meaning--then as well as now--is as a statement of the conditions of legitimate political authority and the proper ends of government, and its proclamation of a new ground of political rule in the sovereignty of the people."

Spalding goes on to note that Thomas Jefferson, principal author of America's founding document, intended the Declaration to be "an expression of the American mind." Fitting, then, that Americans' essential understanding of the need to limit government continues to be reflected in today's polls.

The danger is that President Obama and today's other powerful adherents of the progressive movement will succeed in clouding that understanding.