It
would be instructive to highlight the political distance the U.S. has traveled
since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration
of Independence
237 years ago in order to underscore the stark reality of
the state of the United States and the condition of its citizens. In
astronomical terms, the distance may be measured as that between the Sun and
Neptune. The next and last “milestone” would be Pluto, an illegitimate
planet as illegitimate as the Obama administration and several that preceded
it. The country has journeyed, haltingly and blindly, oft times intentionally
with eyes open, sometimes without thought of consequence, from the life-giving
rays of reason and liberty of the Enlightenment to a realm where those rays do
not much penetrate or affect the coldness of the collectivist and totalitarian
habits of our contemporary politics and culture.
Coming
across the preface to the Declaration in Alasdair Gray‘s The Book of Prefaces*, in which the
latter section of Jefferson’s opus, following, “To prove this, let Facts
be submitted to a candid world,” was cut, presumably for space reasons, I
was reminded of that distance (again).  I
decided to parse the Declaration to better stress the distance.
Gray,
however, was “impelled” in his own prefatory notes to paint the
Declaration in distinctly Marxist colors, as a document that was conceived
principally as a political sanction, defense, and explication of oligarchy, slavery,
misogyny, and racism.
By signing, the delegates of the states swore that the
American people gave them the right to make a new government if, & only if,
it guarded all people’s equal right to Life, Liberty & the pursuit of
Happiness. The word Happiness
replaced Property in the 1st
draft as slaves WERE property so unable to pursue it. Many who signed this
contract meant it to exclude slaves, redskins, women & others too poor to
be allowed to vote, for these were not people with a capital P. [sic,
bold and style Gray’s]
While
Gray mentions later that delegates who were opposed to slavery needed the votes
of the slaveholding delegates to endorse the Declaration as a political
document (and this is true), he compounds the confusion by referring to its
purpose as a means of establishing a democracy,
when in fact it was intended to announce the formation of a rights-protecting,
non-majority rule republic. While there
are few commentators today who make a distinction between the systems or the
terms, and even fewer Americans who discern the differences, the Founders,
including many slaveholders, certainly saw the distinction and wrote profusely
about it. See The Federalist Papers
and the miscellaneous writings of the various Founders and thinkers of the
period on this subject.
And
here goes the parsing:
When in the Course of human events, it
becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have
connected them with another….
It
is a question of whether or not We, the People, have any remaining, worthwhile connecting
political bands with Congress, the Supreme Court, the Executive Branch, and the
entirety of the federal government. As a whole, the existing federal government
has, for over the last half century at least, behaved like the George III’s
government, acting like Darth Vader’s Death Star, circling our lives and
blasting us from afar, independent of and insensible to the electorate,
certainly not in conformance to reason, and with a cavalier attitude towards
any freedoms which that government was instituted to preserve and protect.
…and to assume among the powers of the
earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of
Nature’s God entitle them….
The
nature of man and reality – the powers of
the earth
, and the Laws of nature
– imbue us with the decision and the power to reclaim those freedoms, either at
the ballot box…or by other means.
…a decent respect to the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the
separation….
It
is a decent respect for the minds of
others that has moved me to write this column. And, We, the People, are not so
much impelled to separate ourselves from the federal government, as having
already been separated from it by its capricious and malign actions, which have
alienated whatever residual affection we may have had for it. 
…We hold these truths to be
self-evident…
These
truths are self-evident to anyone who
subscribes to reason. This observation excludes virtually all Republican and
Democratic politicians, who inhabit a mental bubble world, insulated from
reality and indemnified from the reckless and destructive consequences of their
actions.
…that all men are created equal….
…Under
the aegis of objective, rights-protecting law, what remains of it today.
However, the federal government, from top to bottom, from the White House to every
federal bureaucrat and employee, behaves like a monarchial behemoth which has
charged itself with “managing” the citizens of this country and
devoting itself to the exclusive task of extracting from our productive lives
every cent and drop of sweat it can get away with.  
…that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness….
 …That man is a being of volitional
consciousness, and the owner of his own life, endowed by his nature with the
task of preserving and advancing his life and values, so long as his actions do
not infringe upon or violate the lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of
others. And if the definition of happiness
should include the creation and possession of property, so be it. It is tragic and regrettable that the Founders
needed to compromise on the issue of property in order to declare independence.
That omission engendered consequences that extend beyond the issue of slavery.  
…That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed….
To
better secure those rights, men must grasp that their rights do not originate
in government, that rights are not created by government, and are not the government’s
to restrict or obviate. Rights are merely recognized by a body of men instituted
and charged with their preservation and protection, and to that end that body
is empowered to employ retaliatory force domestically through police forces and
the judiciary, and with the military against foreign enemies, which just powers
are enumerated in the original Constitution. How many men would consciously
consent to the abridgement of their rights and lives? Today, too many.
…That whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these ends….
I cannot
name a single right that has not been abridged or violated by the
federal government. Clearly, our current federal government dedicated itself to
destroying those rights by long ago having adopted in its ends collectivist
causes that can only guarantee the destruction of those rights. Past Congresses
and administrations infringed on those rights by semi-conscious default. The
current Congress and administration are destroying them as a conscious,
deliberate policy.
… it is the Right of the People to alter
or to abolish it….
Yes,
it is our right to alter the federal government, at the ballot box, by
referendum, and by other legal, non-violent means. Alternatively, Ayn Rand’s novel
Atlas
Shrugged
is rich with suggestions. The American Revolution, after all, was
the original strike against an omnivorous,
cannibalistic government.
…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….
Our
current federal government does not consider itself bound by the principles
underlying individual rights and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Its
powers are no longer organized to preserve and protect those rights, but rather
to obliterate them. It is not likely in the near future that it will recognize
those rights and repeal every page of legislation dedicated to their
abridgement or destruction.
…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient
causes….
The
diminishing scope of our rights is not a light
and transient cause
. When that scope reaches zero, it will be too late to
act except by passive non-violence. Prudence, indeed, dictates that our
long-established statist government needs to be changed in the composition of
its members and in the reformation or rejection of its explicit ends, or….
…and accordingly all experience hath
shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed….
Experience
has shown me, and many others, as well, that Americans are more disposed to
suffer the abuses of our government than to do anything about them. The federal
takeover of education alone has virtually guaranteed a passive citizenry inured
to those abuses, and a large and growing corps of that citizenry who welcome
dependency on federal largesse, which can only be paid for from the pockets and
bank accounts of a diminishing productive segment of the citizenry. It is time
for that particular segment to declare that the evils are no longer sufferable.
…But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce
them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw
off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security….
The
long train of abuses committed by the federal government is too exhaustive to
itemize here. Readers should try to think of a single action or liberty that is
not or has not been regulated, reduced, usurped, or negated by federal legislation.
…Such has been the patient sufferance of
these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter
their former Systems of Government….
There
is a practical limit to the “virtue” of patient tolerance of being
treated like chattel by a government whose ends and objects are inimical to
one’s life, liberty, and happiness. Beyond that limit, this country is cooked.
…The history of the present King of
Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in
direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States….
The
history of the present federal government is open to all. Buy a book. Read it,
but don’t weep. Get mad.
I have
always been dumfounded by the non-conceptual obtuseness of people who are
unaware of the injuries to their lives and the repeated usurpations of their
rights authored by the federal government. Attempts to enlighten them are tantamount
to pulling out an IHOP children’s coloring place mat and patiently connecting
the dots for them.
Worse
still, and too often, one hears their agreement that such injuries and
usurpations are necessary to maintain that chimerical form of government, democracy. Many will reply, by rote or with
a touchy defensiveness that is a clue to their character, that such restrictions
or violations are the “price we pay for freedom.” These latter are
men who haven’t an inkling of what freedom is, and who would be comfortable
living under absolute tyranny. They would tolerate subsistence rations, allow
their sons to be sent off to war to die for government causes, and hire their
daughters out to Muslim whorehouses.
…To prove this, let Facts be submitted
to a candid world.
I
think I have just done that, I hope, to a candid readership. How far we have
traveled.
*Alasdair Gray, “The
American Declaration of Independence,” in The Book of Prefaces, Ed. and Advertisement by Alasdair Gray.  New York: Bloomsbury (2000), 2003, pp. 416-417.