July 4, 2012

AP ‘Analysis’ Fails to Recognize the Declaration-Constitution Linkage

DeclarationAndConstitutionIn an analysis piece which, based on its title (“In divided era, what does July 4th mean?”), was as predictable as heat in July, Ted Anthony, who is tasked with writing “about American culture” at the Associated Press, attempted to explain, 236 years in, where what he claims is “the only nation in the world that was built solely upon an idea” stands. (Communism as an idea is what originally built the historically destructive Soviet Union, so Anthony is obviously wrong on that; readers will see another example later in this post.)

In the process, even beyond his tedious complaints about commerce (“Independence Day … (is) more about the pursuit of happiness than life and liberty”), Anthony revealed utter ignorance about the nature and interrelationship of this country’s key founding documents, as seen in the following excerpts (bolds are mine):

But how many of us (and it would be a fair point to suggest that even the very term “us” is a bit ridiculous in America these days) actually stop and think about our political lot on Independence Day? Cynical though the notion may be, it’s hard to find a person who says, “Well, yes, actually, I do engage in discourse about the state of our republic with my fellow Americans between bites of potato salad.”

… Think about it for a moment. What do we celebrate Wednesday? A declaration of independence – a conception, really, rather than an actual birth. A decision that we will be a separate nation. But the work – most of the war to win it, and the compromises necessary to build it – was still ahead. Independence was asserted in 1776, but the rule book we’re playing from, the Constitution, was still 11 years and countless casualties away.

… It’s the American instinct to celebrate the big, epic, unifying event rather than the tortuous process of give and take and, yes, rancor that followed. Is it possible that we should be celebrating the Constitution rather than the declaration – the house that Americans actually built rather than merely the idea to build the house?

Uh, Ted, anyone who has studied the Founders, the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, and the process which led to its adoption and ratification knows several things you and so many others, especially in the press, seem to wish to deny:

  • The Declaration was not a conception; it was a birth. That’s why we count 236 years since our nation’s founding, and not the 225 since the Constitution’s adoption, or the 223 since its ratification. The Declaration proclaimed that now-former British colonies were “Free and Independent States” with the “full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.” Thus, the infant country was born, and it was up to those who brought it about and others allied with them to protect it from those who would re-subjugate it.
  • The Declaration wasn’t “merely the idea to build the house”; it was, and remains, the house’s foundation.

The reason I suggest that so many others besides Ted Anthony want to deny a direct relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution is that a recent presidential candidate made that historically-supported relationship between the two the very foundation of his campaign.

I personally attended an event where that candidate spoke to a packed high school gymnasium; they understood and enthusiastically agreed when he established the linkage between the Declaration and the Constitution. Writers from the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and more than likely several other national media outlets were there. They heard what this candidate had to say the core of his campaign was about. They virtually ignored it.

The assembled press either failed to grasp the significance of the relationship the candidate demonstrated (highly unlikely), or they understood but didn’t want their readers and other news consumers to understand it. Because if the nation really understood the candidate’s point, it would have changed the public’s perception of the candidate, and it would have possibly led to a thorough re-think of where the nation is headed — which is currently not in the direction of protecting and enhancing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We can’t have that now, can we?

Here is what that candidate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, had to say about the relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution in Brown County, Ohio on February 23:

An increasing number of those on the progressive left would like to dispense with the Declaration (of Independence). They would like to move it off the stage, into the shadows, so they can just have this Constitution alone — a “living, breathing” Constitution. …

You see, a Constitution can “live and breathe” and change if it is not anchored to something eternal. That’s what the Declaration (of Independence) is, in the words that you all know … “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 is the heart of America.

… The French Revolution had a constitution not dissimilar to the American Constitution. But the French Revolution was not based on God-given rights. It was based on three things. Equality – good. Liberty – good. Fraternity – problematic. Where did we get our rights from? Paternity – God. Where did their rights derive? From each other, from whoever has the levers of power.

… If we cut loose from the Declaration, cut loose from God-given rights, cut loose from the moral enterprise that is America, then we leave a very cold dangerous, frightening America to our children. That’s why this election is the most important election ever. Ever.

It still is the most important election ever, for the reason Santorum cited. The other side, which includes the vast majority of the establishment press, is obviously determined to “cut loose from God-given rights.” We had better hope that our side isn’t.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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