The Declaration of Independence, celebrated each July Fourth, does not speak of creating a powerful new government. Instead, it challenges the excessive power exercised in various ways by the British government in the American colonies. Over the many decades since the document’s publication, the increased rejection of the recognition that the colonies and then the American states are free and independent is tied to the growing of the United States government’s power and the decreasing respect for liberty in America.
Libertarian communicator Ron Paul wrote about this development in his book Swords into Plowshares. The independence expressed in the Declaration of Independence, notes Paul, was not for a nation called the United States. Instead it was for each of the several colonies — the independent states. America has come very far from this founding principle. On Independence Day, it would be good for many Americans to contemplate Paul’s comments in the following paragraph from Swords into Plowshares:
The Founders made an attempt to prevent the catastrophe we’re facing. Their sincere effort to protect liberty with a republican form of government has failed. The very clear conclusion expressed in the last paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states that the “United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States” that come together only in a very limited fashion. This principle of independent states was mentioned three times in the concluding paragraph, emphasizing the purpose of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. Unfortunately, the Constitution weakened this important point made in the Declaration of Independence, and, over the years, constitutional constraints have not done much to protect the states as “free and independent.” Further erosion occurred as a consequence of the Civil War. And in many ways it’s been downhill ever since for the protection of liberty for which the colonists fought and died. As this trend has continued, the executive branch has grown in power and scope.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.