Must America’s founding principles be changed to meet the challenges of our age? Are we defined by a place and a people or by the shared principles we embrace and preserve?
In his farewell address, George Washington warned, “Toward the preservation of your government…it is requisite…that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles.” Celebrating our Declaration of Independence involves honoring our founding principles.
Thomas Jefferson affirmed, "What is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want bread. I own, I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the pretense of taking care of them, they must become happy."
America stands for equal opportunity, not equal results. We prosper because citizens are free to create value instead of becoming burdens. But when President Obama works to “remake America” and tells Joe the Plumber of his desire to “spread the wealth around,” we wonder whether the property rights affirmed in our Bill of Rights are truly secure.
Benjamin Franklin warned, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.” Espousing noble goals, liberals want to restrict peanuts on airplanes, determine what foods you can eat, and how much gas your car can use. Excessive regulations limit your liberty, choke our businesses, and explode the cost of government. Encourage safety, but value freedom even more.
John Adams asserted, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” George Washington added, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who would labor to subvert these great pillars…. Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”