July 4th used to be my favorite holiday. Now, not so much. What happened?
Independence Day has always been a day to join friends and neighbors in the celebration of America’s greatness, its unparalleled achievements and its unbounded future. It was the one day it was cool to be a “super patriot,” and that was super cool.
We used to celebrate what President Reagan called, “that shining city on a hill.” America was a beacon of hope and bastion of freedom, an example to the world – a beacon and an example not because of special history but because of a special country – and even more important, a special destiny.
But looking around me on July 4th in 2012, thinking about what America has become, I got the sickening feeling that Independence Day has changed because our country has changed.
We still celebrate our past, but we are no longer confident of our future. We are realizing that the America of 2012, the America Obama and 50 years of progressivism have given us, has a very problematic future. Is this new “transformed” America even worth celebrating?
- For the first time in history, our sovereign debt has been downgraded.
- Canada, not the United States, is now the most prosperous nation on earth, with average household net worth surpassing ours by $43,000, or about 13 percent.
- The number of people on food stamps has grown 50 percent in less than four years.
- The racial divide is larger than ever as “progressive” candidates increasingly play the “race card” to silence debate.
- Faith in government institutions is at an all-time low as dependence on government grows.
- Almost 50 percent of adults now pay no income taxes as Congress prepares to enact the largest tax increase in history on middle-class Americans and small business.
- The U.S. Supreme Court abandons constitutional principles to give Congress an unlimited power to regulate private life through the taxing power.
- The college student loan “bubble” now exceeds $1 trillion, and the typical debt is over $25,000.
But economic statistics do not tell the whole story. Economic decline is a symptom of cultural decline, and traditional moral values are under attack across a wide battlefield.
The debate over “tax fairness” is not a debate over the best means to generate maximum revenues for government. It is a debate over the morality of capitalism and the freedom of contract.
This culture war has been raging for a century, but it has reached a critical stage.
- The Pledge of Allegiance is banned at increasing numbers of public schools while gay and lesbian awareness programs proliferate.
- The Boy Scouts are pummeled for upholding the values and the program that has made the term “Eagle Scout” synonymous with “all-American hero.”
- For the first time in history, children born out of wedlock outnumber children born to married women. Not coincidentally, the number of children living in poverty is at an all-time high as well.
- Sex slavery is a major problem in many urban areas.
- Fertility rates of middle-class Americans have declined below replacement levels, and our population grows only as a result of immigration, both legal and illegal.
These trends did not start with Obama, and they will not end merely by replacing him. Our culture is in free fall, and it is an open question whether these dangerous trends can be reversed.
The progressive movement has succeeded where Hitler, Stalin, Mao, al-Qaida and all external threats failed: America has tumbled into a state of mediocrity, moral relativism and self-indulgence that resembles a cancer in the body politic.
Sadly, July 4th is now only a celebration of our past glories. We will soon join the Mayans, the Egyptians, the Persians and the Vikings in worshiping a mythic past. We will no longer celebrate the bright, confident future of a free people.