Reagan to millennials: Why the left loathes the Declaration

This July 4th weekend I opened a local Sunday paper, and what did I find? A special section filled with a copy of the Constitution of the United States. The editors wanted to celebrate Independence Day but ominously also to declare the threat they feel in the era of President Donald J. Trump (no surprise with the New York Times).

Although the Constitution is certainly under threat (I believe from the socialist left that controls my party), it is the Declaration of Independence we must defend at all costs, for without it, the Constitution will certainly crumble.

Since July 4 is the day we celebrate the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution, as the New York Times must know, it is worth considering their fears in a different context, which might help them understand “Trump Democrats” like me.

Sadly, the “progressives” of my party have been undermining the Declaration for most of the last century simply by dismissing it as irrelevant. This is much more than ignorance. This is at the heart of the battle for Americanism, a sober thing for young citizens to consider since it will define the country they inherit.

Let me explain briefly.

First, imagine one weekend you decide to move the furniture around – perhaps putting the couch on the other side of the room or maybe something more radical like turning the dining room into a small den. Sounds like fun – no problem, right? After all, it’s up to you how you order your life.

But then two people in pajamas come downstairs and ask you what you are doing in their house. In all your plans, you left out one basic step – you need to own the house before you can decide how you want to live in it.

Owning the house is the Declaration. The Constitution is deciding how you want to live in the house. And yes, once you own the house, you can reorder the furniture when you want – as we did more than once with the Constitution, which we still reserve the right to adjust as we see fit.

Of course, we can’t rewrite our Constitution based on National Socialist or Communist theories. (The furniture must fit the house we own.) We must adhere to the spirit of our Declaration, which states clearly certain basic principles that led to ending slavery and granting all Americans the right to vote.

But despite regular adjustments to our constitutional way of life, the legal papers proving ownership of this specific house don’t change. The Declaration of Independence was well and truly approved, signed, and paid for by the “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” of our forebears.

And that’s why when we want to celebrate our birth as a nation, we celebrate our House – not our House Rules. We celebrate our country and our liberty – and not the government we instituted to protect those treasures.

This point has been rejected by the liberal left, which also claims love of country but wants to “re-imagine” that country away from itself. My party’s leaders prefer celebrating the “House Rules,” which they can change (their favorite word).

They reject the centrality of the Declaration for one key reason, which I’ll explain in a moment. But they fear the Declaration because it is unchangeable. Since they can’t change it, they want to remove it, knowing the result to follow – the endless ability to redefine America by reinterpreting a Constitution based on nothing.

As to the key reason they reject the Declaration, I’ll let the 40th president of the United States do the explaining. But first quickly consider the clues found in the Declaration’s opening paragraphs:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, 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, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“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. …”

A glance at these two paragraphs reveals the problem for our secular leaders. The Declaration of Independence can fairly be called both political and religious in that its essential politics are rooted in our common acceptance of a Creator God.

Before you misunderstand, I should say this requires no personal faith on your part, but instead calls us all to a political faith that is quintessentially American. (More on this when I conclude.)

So, let’s ask Ronald Wilson Reagan why so many political, intellectual and media leaders on the left consider the Declaration irrelevant to modern America.

In 1983 President Reagan delivered what is known as, “The Evil Empire Speech” in which he confronted in harsh terms the Communist government of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which was responsible for the death of millions of people and the political imprisonment of millions more.

But calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” as Reagan famously did, was not the most important thing the president said in that speech.

In the following few words (you’ll never hear quoted by our secular institutions), Reagan explained indirectly why so many of our leaders in Washington seem to ignore the Declaration of Independence, seeking instead to make July 4th a day to honor the Constitution.

“I want you to know that this administration is motivated by a political philosophy that sees the greatness of America in you, her people, and in your families, churches, neighborhoods, communities – the institutions that foster and nourish values like concern for others and respect for the rule of law under God.

“Now, I don’t have to tell you that this puts us in opposition to, or at least out of step with, a prevailing attitude of many who have turned to a modern-day secularism, discarding the tried and time-tested values upon which our very civilization is based.

“No matter how well intentioned, their value system is radically different from that of most Americans. And while they proclaim that they’re freeing us from superstitions of the past, they’ve taken upon themselves the job of superintending us by government rule and regulation. Sometimes their voices are louder than ours, but they are not yet a majority.”

The secular establishment’s rejection of our Judeo-Christian roots, makes genuine debate about Americanism nearly impossible. No wonder the Declaration is ignored. Not counting the Bible, there is no more threatening historic document to the socialist left than this one that declares us a nation under God, specifically under a Creator God who gave us our rights in the first place.

Finally, let me emphasize that no one is required to be religious in this country, despite our history’s undeniable Judeo-Christian heritage. The United States has a political faith made clear in our wonderful Declaration of Independence.

We are secure in our rights when we collectively agree that government is not the source of those rights but that they come from a higher authority that government is bound to respect. Since we are “endowed by our creator” with those “unalienable rights,” government cannot take them away nor can we ourselves give them up. They are the rock of our nation, and the envy of the world. Something well worth celebrating – and worth fighting for.