Kadner: July Fourth a good time to own up
By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org July 3, 2013 9:44PM
Fireworks light the sky over the U.S. Capitol, left, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial in Washington on Wednesday, July 4, 2012, as seen from Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated: August 5, 2013 6:28PM
As a person responsible for this country, I can’t say I’m really happy about the way things are going.
I blame the Founding Fathers, who put me in charge. Didn’t those knuckleheads realize I couldn’t even fix a running toilet?
Now, here I am with nuclear weapons, a trillion-dollar debt, troops in Afghanistan, terrorists trying to blow me up and everyone complaining about their taxes.
Thomas Jefferson said we all had an inalienable right to “the pursuit of happiness” but never even bothered to explain what that meant.
Would he have been pleased to know that millions of Americans are happily watching Honey Boo Boo or following the adventures of the Kardashian clan?
Back on July 4, 1776, I doubt that the guys who declared their independence from England really understood how ill prepared I would be to run the government nearly 240 years later.
To tell the truth, I know more about the White Sox, Bears, Bulls and Blackhawks than I do about trade deficits.
As I listen to my co-owners of this country argue about immigration, gun control, birth control and same-sex marriage, it often occurs to me that there was a reason monarchs ran things for thousands of years.
Declaring that all men are created equal may have had a revolutionary ring to it, but when it comes to operating a nation as large as the United States it can cause some confusion.
For example, when a man recently told me how bad things were in Washington, D.C., I told him to stop whining and accept responsibility for screwing things up.
He got all angry and said it was the president who was running the country into the ground along with Congress.
“But you’re the boss,” I replied.
Well, he didn’t want any part of that conversation.
Don’t get me wrong. This fellow is a patriotic American who flies the flag on a pole in his front lawn and has bought about $1,000 worth of fireworks he plans to explode Thursday.
He’s a fine father, good son and, as far as I know, loyal to his wife. It’s just when it comes to running the government, he prefers to blame the hired help.
I have spent a lot of years studying history, trying to get some idea of what our Founding Fathers were really thinking when they handed us control of the country.
They created three different branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial), each to serve as a check on the powers of the other. The main concern was some form of tyranny, where one man or group of people would gain too much power.
Jefferson’s overriding notion was that an informed citizenry would act as a sort of check on the entire process, making sure that the government did the bidding of the people.
But all you’ve got to do is read a few of my emails to realize the process has completely broken down.
A communist/fascist/Muslim is in the White House. Republicans in Congress are trying to destroy the country by bringing the legislative process to a standstill. The U.S. Supreme Court has undermined the institution of marriage.
And it’s all my fault. You see, I take my role as a citizen seriously.
If the government does a good thing (helps the victims of hurricanes, for example), I can stand up and cheer because I’m part of the solution. But when the government fails, I have to accept that I’m part of the problem.
I feel just awful about the entire Iraq thing. When my country invades a nation, saying it has weapons of mass destruction and then can’t find any, I feel a sense of personal embarrassment.
When billions of dollars have to be spent bailing out Wall Street firms where people made millions of dollars by selling bad home loans, I get angry.
The rich guys walked away, the little guys lost their homes and the working stiffs picked up the tab. I felt really foolish. Who runs a country like that?
And why is it my co-owners keep blaming the guys we hired to clean up the mess that we made?
I realize there are going to be disagreements. Heck, my wife and I don’t always agree on how to run the house, and partners often argue about business decisions.
But I’ve never seen anything like the people who run this country. It seems like one-half of the population is always cheering for the other half to fail, even if that means the nation itself suffers.
And then, on July 4, we celebrate the idea that long ago some fellows decided “we the people” are smart enough to work out our differences and set an example for the world.
It wouldn’t matter whether you were born rich or poor or who your father was — no man had to bow to another here.
All men are created equal. That is the belief on which this country was founded and has grown.
And after more than 230 years, a revolution, a Civil War, two world wars and a Great Depression, it seems we are unable to appreciate the gift we have been given.
It saddens me, as a steward of this land, that so few recall or comprehend the grave responsibility handed down to us through the Declaration of Independence.
“We the people” must work to form a more perfect union.
For in the end, what are we fighting for, if not each other?