Today's celebrations might ring hollower than they have in the past. They will, at least, for me.

Because I believe that a transparent, open democracy headed by honest and diligent leaders with their constituents' best interests in mind is the best way to be free these days, and we are straying ever farther from that place. Granted, there never really was a time in our country's history when every person was represented or even when every human was considered a person. Native Americans, people of color, women, disabled folks, and other minorities could tell you that. Which is why I'm careful about any rosy tint in the glasses I use to look back at the founding of our country.

But there are a few words-- the seed of this country-- that, when I read them, make my heart fill with hope. I don't know about you, but I could use as much of that as I can dig up.

The refrain is that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but I'd amend that to a relay. Good people have been running this race against tyrants, despots and dictators for thousands of years, and the only difference is that the baton is in our hands.

In light of that and in honor of the day, perhaps it's prudent to recall exactly the kind of tyrant from which Americans freed themselves the first time:

"...But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world."

"He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
"He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
"He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
"He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
"He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
"He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

This Independence Day, one that feels so much less free than others may have, let's remember how far we've come. Not just since November 2016, but since July 1776. We've got a long way to go, but we've come a long way already. May the true spirit of this country inhabit your thoughts and your actions today and every day. Have a safe and fun Fourth, everyone.

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