July 4th, 1776: Declaring our independence AND ideals

One of only 25 known surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence which were printed July 4, 1776 sits on display at Sotheby’s June 22, 2000 in New York City. The document was bought at auction for $8.14 million on Sotheby’s web site June 29, 2000. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers)

On this day in 1776 when the American colonies 2nd Continental Congress declared our independence from Britain, the Declaration of Independence was printed and distributed. It was a simple declarative given a year after the American Revolutionary war began, but has become more symbolic over time.

Many view this declaration as more than the Colonists officially telling Britain to go pound sand, but rather it was a fundmentally important building block in the formation of our American ideological foundation, a key basis for our guiding principles and the creation of a great nation, and a bold affirmation that we were done with an oppressive, empire-building country.

Its first few lines have resonated with me since I was in grade school: “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.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Those lines in bold were ones I’ve believed in since I was first taught American History, fighting to stay awake as my buddy Mike F. tried to make me laugh in class, knowing *I* would be the one to catch hell.

As a former Republican and now a fierce independent, I’ve grown profoundly disturbed over the last eight years as those childish beliefs of mine in “by the people,” “liberty,” “rule of law,” “haebeus corpus,” have given way to an adult understanding that power is all that matters, demonstrated by our current Administration who has clearly shown us their belief that “the people” are to be “Governed” and that the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights are nothing but quaint historical relics that they have reigning presidential powers over and can “alter or abolish.”

Unless you and I actually do believe in our American ideals and are willing to stand up for them and take back that power (and give “the consent of the governed” to those willing to serve vs. dictate), then the 4th of July is nothing but a meaningless excuse to barbecue, shoot off fireworks and buy stuff on sale.


  1. Ken Kennedy on July 6, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Great sentiments, Steve. Now we just have to keep these sorts of discussions in the public eye until November. Regardless of one’s party affiliation (or lack thereof), the issue of government encroachment on citizen’s rights, liberties, and powers has become a critical one that needs to be a big part of the conversation during this election. I hope it’s front and center, in part of through the efforts of people like you and me.

  2. Steve Borsch on July 7, 2008 at 8:50 am

    It has to be front-n-center as a discussion.

    When I talk to other geeks, it’s clear that it’s laughingly easy to encrypt communications that use ciphers beyond the NSA approved AES standard for government documents. No wonder the Feds are freaked out about a communications conduit through which good and bad communicating can occur.

    Add to that the geography of the US and that it’s not feasible to protect everything from attack, and there is a justifiable paranoia and understandable draconian measures taken to be ‘aware’ of those communications in order to concentrate on their cracking.

    But does that justify warrantless wiretapping? Wholesale vacuuming of data and its mining? A RealID card with a goal of 100% of the citizenry being identified and trackable?

    If that’s the case, why not get DNA swabs and fingerprints from everyone?

    I’m not willing to bend over and give everything away. Nor should any of us.

    “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
    –Thomas Jefferson

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.