Independence Day: Let freedom ring

Jul 02, 2013

We all love Fourth of July — a day off from work, barbecues, camp outs, sparklers, swimming in the lake and fireworks displays.

But with all that excitement it is easy to forget the true meaning of July 4 and why we should be celebrating. It is the day our founding fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence. It is easy to take for granted the difficulty in drafting such a document and the risks our founders took in freeing the colonies from Great Britain.

This great document acknowledges that all men are born with unalienable rights  — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But let’s not forget that the document also states that to secure those rights, governments are made among men and derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Many will roll their eyes at the idea of the people being able to control its government — and with good reason. It’s discouraging to think of how little clout “We the People” have when it comes to the big decisions in our country.

In an ideal democracy, elected officials would solely be influenced by and have to answer only to their constituents. How simple would that be? If those officials don’t carry out the will of the majority of the people he or she represents — they won’t get re-elected.

But that is not what’s happening at the state or national level. Corporations and big lobbyists are influencing politicians. They are exchanging the will of the people for backdoor favors. They feel more pressure to “play the game” to get certain bills passed and in turn lose the trust of their constituents.

Yes, this reality is frightening and makes us feel powerless. It would be easy to just throw our arms up in frustration and disengage in the corrupt system. But we don’t think it is too late to try to repair it from the inside.

In order to keep the Declaration of Independence alive instead of becoming just words on paper, we the people must exercise the rights we are born with as well as the rights given to us by The Constitution.

We must educate ourselves on the important issues, get to know the candidates and vote for the ones who will have your community’s best interest at heart. And if they disappoint — don’t vote for them again.

The people of Haywood County will have their chance to evaluate the local politicians this year during the November election. Enjoy your Fourth of July fireworks but also remember the day’s history and the responsibility we all have to make sure it wasn’t all in vain.