July 4, 1776 is the official date of the independence of the United States. This year, it comes at what we hope is the end of the COVID-19 emergency that has gripped the country for over a year.
There will be no doubt be flag waving parades, many outdoor activities and indoor ceremonies that honor the 244 years of our country’s existence as an independent nation. As we get ready to celebrate the holiday Americans are also taking stock of an emerging sense of decadence in our battered country.
Let us not forget that COVID and our abysmal response to its introduction into the United States was not the only major tragedy that afflicted our country this past year, 2020 was also a presidential election year with a post-outcome political process that went sideways.
In 2016 when the then candidate Donald J. Trump declared that the election would be rigged unless he won, people, especially those around him, took little notice because he did win. In 2020 he predicted the same thing again but the outcome was different and the Big Lie was born.
The lie that Trump won the election and that it was then stolen from him has been the basis for the mobilization of sinister actions against the American concept of democracy and the institutions that carry it. This attack has taken the form of over 60 court cases, numerous audits especially in battle ground states, over 350 laws passed by state legislatures looking to disenfranchise certain future diverse voters and a media storm designed to discredit the democratic process and the ballot box.
With this goal in mind, the notion of patriotism is being redefined by some to apply to the defense of White Privilege to the extent of fomenting violence against the rest. Second Amendment types with armed militias and insurrectionists have unsuccessfully acted to abolish at least the legislative branch of our constitutional government.
Since democracy is the foundation of self-rule for our country, its apparent weakening is a great concern to most Americans as shown by survey after survey. Some of this weakening and visible phenomenon comes from the rising autocratic global powers like China and the malevolent intent to undermine American democratic institutions by others like the Russians and Iranians.
But, as evidenced by the events of this past year, it is the attacks by our own people on our institutions that is generating the most doubt about our political way of life. Apparently, for a relative few very loud voices that is Trump’s alternative world, democracy is only good when the power in the political structure continues to be what it was.
This July 4th finds the country’s leadership carrying out an agenda to repair the economic damage caused by the Coronavirus Pandemic and moving forward on the infrastructural renewal of the country. At the same time, the extensive political harm being done by the Big Lie and its tributaries like the focus efforts to make it hard to vote continues.
The joy of July 4th is the separation from the mother country to strike out on our own journey to achieve the idea and ideal of democratic self government by a transplanted, immigrant, native and diverse people in a continental size land. Like in the epics of old, the journey is presently at a crossroad with obstacles to overcome.
Our biggest obstacle by far is our divided politics that threatens to destroy the dynamic fabric that shaped American Exceptionalism. The question is, should we let it?