(Not, as some would like to believe the signing. My own historical research concludes that fewer than 34 of the 56 who would eventually sign the document did so on July 4th, or even in July.)
So while I look forward to rousing Sousa marches played live with flawless precision (or previously recorded and carefully broadcast) so as to be in perfect synchronization with lavish pyrotechnic displays; this enthusiasm is tempered by the disgust that I feel over the 'Independence Day' sales going on everywhere from the local mattress store to J C Penney. While stirred by the postings of fellow bloggers expressing patriotic sentiments in exemplary prose, it's tempered by the self-serving efforts in the Mainstream Media that are designed as much to promote some celebrities latest album, book, or movie as to inspire national fervor; forcing me to change the channel in order to keep down my latest meal.
As for the government that was took its first steps with the writing of this document, I believe that the signers would have trouble recognizing it. Perhaps only those who sought to relieve themselves from the oppressive burden of government could truly understand what a sad mess we've made of their efforts 235 years ago. Confiscation of property (whether through taxation or eminent domain), selective enforcement of laws legitimately passed by the legislature, and a ruling elite who believe that they are better than those they were intended to serve; these were the things that they sought to escape ... not perpetrate.
As for where that government finds itself financially, if the wisest of them were able to come to grips with the concept of a trillion dollars, I dare say that the idea of whether the government ought to have a limit of $14 or $16 trillion in debt would be beyond their comprehension. Incredulity as well, would be their reaction to the concept that the United States is obligated to the world's policeman and peacekeeper when no one else in the world seems to be willing or able to pay little more than lip service to such concepts. They would find the questionable legality of such a concept is as ludicrous as it is laughable.
And lest my lack of enthusiasm for many of the recent US adventures around the world be confused with a lack of patriotism, I think that those who placed themselves in personal jeopardy would understand that my support for troops serving around the world cannot be judged by a demand that I buy into the current brand of nation-building in places far removed from these United States.
For I have come to the conclusion on this most important of National Holidays that I am every bit the Patriot, though I may not be so in a way not traditionally defined as such. "My country right or wrong!" ... Yes and no. Yes, this is my country and I am proud of it. Not right or wrong however. The Founders knew well that it's the right and obligation of true Patriots not to accept the actions of government that they consider incorrect or unjust merely because they are 'national policy'. They should be standing firmly against such oppressive incursions whenever they occur.
It's likewise time to recognize that partisan debate is not only good, but Patriotic. This country was founded on the idea that other points of view might have value and should be vigorously debated, and defended by those who hold them. Compromise is not a good in itself, nor is it Patriotic. Where such compromise is reached it, its judgment must be able to stand on its own. Conceding ground, political or otherwise, is not something intrinsically of value. Agreeing to disagree and setting an issue aside for a time must return to the political discourse as a viable option.
Neither is it Patriotic that fairness be striven for as a goal, except in opportunity. It is far too difficult a concept to grasp, and like beauty, resides in the eye of the beholder. As for government-mandated fairness; it's time that we recognized that such a term is an oxymoron. The heavy hand of government is far too blunt an instrument to perform such a task, unless the goal that we're seeking is an equilibrium that's unfair to all.
Let me finally say that the Cynic in me likewise sees no value in flag-waving and crocodile tears over the National Anthem for some of the once-a-year Patriots that come out on the 4th. Don't belittle those who won't wear a Red, White, and Blue T-shirt with message that you approve of in observance. Don't insist they wave a flag where and when you want them to in order to show a belief in the United States of America. Don't challenge them to put something on their Facebook page or attend an event of your choosing in order to prove their patriotism to you. Such politically correct patriotism is an offense to the term.
The Patriotism of the 4th of July is ultimately about taking a principled stand, even if it disagrees with those around you.
Take your own stand, and have a great 4th of July!