Today is Independence Day, and we’re celebrating. Tonight there will be fireworks to watch. So I’ll try to be brief.
The original independence that the Continental Congress of the seceding colonies declared, was dramatic and fundamental, as I’ve tried to honor these past two days in Common Sense.
But the idea of independence, and of our liberty that it was meant to secure, extends beyond events over two centuries ago.
Today, we are riddled with at least two kinds of dependence that are worth resisting.
- Economic dependence. I’m not talking about foreign trade. “Independence-with-freedom” assumes that we will always depend on each other by co-operation. But the terms of that co-operation should be mutual. The great problem with crony capitalism and the welfare state — and even to some degree with a large federal workforce — is that increasing numbers of people (whole classes) increasingly depend on taxpayers rather than their own productivity and commerce.
This sort of dependence depends on wealth, but provides poverty.
- Partisan dependence. The polarization of the two political parties has become increasingly ideological — as it was at the beginning of the country, actually — and is becoming increasingly nasty. Americans seem “stuck.” Breaking apart from the parties might make for a more honest and productive debate.
One way to accomplish the latter? Work for general, non-partisan — “transpartisan” — reforms, like term limits . . . and other measures aimed at greater representation, from mandating smaller districts to establishing ranked choice voting.
Remember, in 24 states and most cities and towns, citizens also have the initiative and referendum process to act directly. Staying focused on issues is the key to working across partisan divides.
Who knows what improvements we might be able to make?
What begins by thinking independently comes to fruition in successful cooperation.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.