Reflections on Independence Day

It is very often repeated that the American Revolution was fought over taxation. “No taxation without representation” was the mantra of the day. It is even becoming more popular recently to say that it was fought, at least in part, over gun control, as the British sought to confiscate arms and powder stores. Indeed, there were many issues of concern that resulted in the Revolution, many of which are listed in the Declaration of Independence.

The root of the matter, however, that produced likely all of the issues highlighted then and still now was not taxation or gun control. Among the worst offenses committed by the British against the American colonists in the decades leading up to the war was the dissolution and abolishment of their respective colonial legislatures.

The colonists had been governing themselves by elected legislatures for over a century, and after the French and Indian War, British Parliament decided that the colonists had become too autonomous and independent. Thus, all of the measures so famously taken against the Americans, including taxation and gun control, were specifically designed to bring the Americans into submission and conformity to unelected government.

Every Independence Day, we are not celebrating lower taxes or liberal gun ownership. We are celebrating individual sovereignty. We are individuals created by God with certain unalienable rights, “that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The mechanism we individuals use to guard these rights is elected government. These individuals are chosen from among fellow sovereign citizens to enact their collective will and to act as a watchman against the unelected portion of government. Professional government is a necessary evil, but being an evil, it must be watched and at times corrected by the elected representatives. We call this checks and balances.

Certainly the two can work together peacefully and productively, but it is the defining purpose of elected branches of government to be adversarial to the unelected to serve as the careful, scrutinizing watchman. When the elected representative, whether federal, state, or local government, acts first as friend and only adversary in extreme circumstances toward the unelected government, they are not serving their purpose and individual sovereignty that was fought so rigorously for is threatened and eroded.

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