A Declaration of Independence...from Republican tyranny
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
"It’s an entire culture that focus on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness and personal pleasure and it is, it is harming America."
Republican Senator Rick Santorum, television interview, July 25, 2006.
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most remarkable documents ever written. The writing is simple and accessible and yet poetic and revolutionary. "We hold these truths to be self-evident...". Anyone can understand this phrase but almost no one conceived of the idea, let alone thought to write it down on a "subversive" document 230 years ago. It was revolutionary - all men were endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Andrew Sullivan's brilliant new book, The Conservative Soul: How we lost it, How to get it back, talks about this idea. I'm paraphrasing but basically it goes something like this. It wasn't life, liberty and the pursuit of morals or the pursuit of virtue or the pursuit of religion. It was the pursuit of happiness. Not even happiness but simply its pursuit. Your idea of happiness might be boating, mine may be (is) golfing. It may be that your idea of happiness is painting, hiking, traveling, mountain climbing, skydiving, watching movies, playing the harmonica or yes, even internet gambling while, horrors, having a martini. That was the unalienable right. The simple pursuit of happiness. To play. To enjoy oneself. To be left alone from the awesome power of government to pursue your pleasure. The pursuit of pleasure, of happiness was a goal or a right as important as life. As important as freedom. It is life, it is freedom. But it's the pursuit of happiness, that is, the pursuit of pleasure that Republicans hate. They want to tell you how to live and they want to pass laws to make sure you don't pursue your happiness.
Take a look at this video (hat tip: Andrew Sullivan) where Republican Senator Rick Santorum says, "It’s an entire culture that focus on immediate gratification and the pursuit of happiness and personal pleasure and it is, it is harming America." No Senator, you're harming America. When the Taliban came to power they banned music and dance and kite flying. They banned movies and alcohol (banning alcohol, hmmm, that sounds familiar) and anything else they deemed as harming Islam and Afghanistan. Rick Santorum bans internet gambling (but not online horserace betting or online state lotteries) because he wants to tell you how you spend your money and free time. As Sullivan writes about Santorum, "he tries to portray such a pursuit as somehow an enemy of personal responsibility. But why not both? Isn't that what true conservatism means? And since when was it the role of government to be the means of imposing values and responsibility? In Santorum, you see how the big government left met the moralizing right and became Bush-Rove conservatism. It's a vision of America suited for October 31. And it's time to fight back against it."
George Will, another obvious "liberal, just do it" kind of guy says, yes, "some people gamble too much. And some people eat too many cheeseburgers. But who wants to live in a society that protects the weak-willed by criminalizing cheeseburgers? " He adds, "But governments and sundry busybodies seem affronted by the Internet, as they are by any unregulated sphere of life. The speech police are itching to bring bloggers under campaign-finance laws that control the quantity, content and timing of political discourse. And now, by banning a particular behavior—the entertainment some people choose, using their own money—government has advanced its mother-hen agenda of putting a saddle and bridle on the Internet." He's right. Or "left" if you believe Santorum.
Sullivan says it's time to fight back. I voted early today and it felt so good. Better than ever before. The referees will call the fight next tuesday night. Let's hope it's a knockout and not a split decision on points because frankly I don't trust the refs anymore and I sure don't trust people like soon-to-be former Senator Rick Santorum who think they know better than Thomas Jefferson about the meaning of the Declaration of Independence or you or me if we want to have a drink, place a bet or fly a kite. Who knows, his head might explode if you wanted to do all of that at the same time. As President Bush likes to say, "the terrorists hate us for our freedoms." No, Republicans like Rick Santorum hate us for our freedoms.