|Inscription outside the National Archives Building, Washington, D.C.|
Two-hundred and forty-two years ago this Wednesday, American revolutionaries formally broke away from their mother country, England. They issued a Declaration of Independence, boldly stating: "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
By "all Men" they really meant "white men" — not women, naturally, certainly not black men, who would later in the Constitution be established as 3/5 of a person, when enslaved, to increase the power of their drivers in Congress.
In a sense, the founders were unintentionally signing a check they had no intention of cashing. They were like a man at a bar offering to buy everybody a drink, not realizing just how many people were crowded into the shadows.
But they were there, and then began to come out of the shadows and claim their due — our nation's domestic history over the past 242 years in a nutshell: bloody Civil War followed by 150 years of struggle nudging up the personhood of blacks in the eyes of the state to somewhere above 60 percent but still somehow lagging beneath the full 1.0 status that whites automatically enjoy. Meanwhile, women rose up, first battling slavery, as leading abolitionists, as if practicing to win their own freedom. Then, a half century after Emancipation, casting off their own chains, earning the right to vote.
At no point in the past was this struggle not being fought, by one group or another, but always returning to the central question: who is this Declaration of Independence for? Who belongs in this country?
Those who believe that the United States of America was, is, and should always be a white Christian native-born clique, saw where our country is going, uttered a cry of alarm, and in 2016 elected the most unfit, dishonest, petty, vindictive, vain, ignorant man ever to call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home. After 18 months of spinning his wheels, more or less, issuing hourly Twitter rants, last week his tires caught and we were all projected forward toward the nation he wishes to see. A nation that bars immigrants because of their religion. That abuses children. That starves unions. And with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, that lurches jurisprudence rightward for the next generation.
On Facebook, my Democratic brethren are liquid with terror. This is the worst thing ever! They repeat their empty promises to flee abroad, the same bleat of preemptive surrender heard two years ago.
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