Our country was born, as most know, not in a moment, but through a protracted War, a Revolt, that is generally considered to have lasted from sometime in 1775 to sometime around 1787, when the British finally gave up, or whatever.
Early on in that timeframe, a bunch of Royal-No-More Smart People got together in Philadelphia and drafted the Declaration of Independence. In essence, they wrote a strongly worded letter. >:| Because, at the end of the day, our country was founded by eggheads. Nope, it did not take until the computer age for Geeks to Rule, they seized power back in 1776 when they locked themselves in a conference room and didn’t come out until they had an agreement. That day was July 4, the day we celebrate every year with fireworks and picnics and music.
The fireworks are a general allusion to battle and specifically, to the Battle of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. A War that followed a more traditional trajectory of battles and sackings, etc, than the Revolutionary War. A war more like those that would follow in future years. And thus, the 4th of July becomes a celebration, in a sense, of war. Violent revolution has been the path to greater freedom for many cultures in the 200 + years since America tried it and it worked.
I guess what I am wondering, in my inevitably contrarian way, is, where is the celebration of democracy? Where is the honoring of voting rights and property rights and personal rights? OK, so a lot of women are walking around this week dressed like a Columbian prostitute (or Mila Kunis), so aside from women expressing themselves through fashion?
As an admittedly accidental lawyer, who nonetheless is a member of two State Bars I am often embarrassed to admit I’m a lawyer in the wake of BigLaw collapses and various scandals involving unscrupulous lawyers. What I am still trying to figure out, as a natural-born citizen of the World’s Leading Democracy and an Actual Lawyer, is how the Post-Watergate generation of lawyers could have had so little interest in Our Democracy? Why did they all turn Wall Street –money, money, all for me, no I’m not going to refer you to a colleague, I can do everything, work 100 a week, no time for pro bono, no time to train anyone, no time for mentoring, no time for family, no time for anything but making my own money.
I don’t really want to self-nominate as some sort of frumpy dressing superhero, but aren’t lawyers supposed to be the guardians of democracy? If not, then who is? I just don’t see my compatriots doing that, really. I’m not sure that fifteen percent of the country would be on food stamps, major banking houses would lose $9 billion at a time and we would have record foreclosures and robo-signings if lawyers were leveling the playing field instead of lining their pockets.
Democracy comes in small ways, I think, multiple times every day. It comes when you plant a pepper plant in pot on your porch, or an herb garden, or a fruit tree in your yard. It comes when you walk to the ice cream shop in your neighborhood, and buy a newspaper from the corner store run by your neighbor. It comes when you are ready to make a major purchase—a house, a car, furniture, and you ask questions about the company, their labor and environmental practices, the end of life for your purchase, profit-sharing and financial responsibility along with the price and features. It comes when you check out a book from the public library, when you pay your taxes and ask questions about where the money goes.
It comes when you assert your own rights, when you question your government, when you question your government’s absence when someone’s rights, self-determination, and independent decisionmaking are at risk. It comes when you empower the person next to you assert themselves, and when you educate yourself. It comes when you see yourself running this country, along with Your Fellow Americans, and your government existing to serve you, not corporate interests. And I believe it comes when you take care of yourself rather than put your fate in the hands of the government.
Citizens United has become a pejorative in our culture. To citizens united.