The Declaration of Independence: Circa 2012

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., July 4, 2012 – Today is the Fourth of July.  When civics was still taught in our public schools, it was known as Independence Day.  While it used to mark the birth of our Nation, today it is too often viewed as a day off work and an excuse for family picnics with fireworks displays and patriotic songs mysteriously playing in the background.  To those who still care, the Declaration of Independence is a rather compelling document that is sadly as descriptive of today’s political environment as it was in 1776.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

That sentence describes the feelings I had when I decided to “dissolve the political bands” of our Nation’s political Parties to run as an independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States.  From my perspective, it had become “necessary,” and in that regard, you are entitled to know “the causes which impel (me) to the separation.”

Succinctly:  our country finds itself within the clenches of an oligarchy in which the major Parties represent the political bloodlines of the ruling class.  Circumstances demand that I give America a choice to recapture its independence by providing it with a Presidential candidate who is free to do what is in the best interests of the People rather than a particular Party, who is willing to serve our Nation full-time without obligation to fundraise or campaign at the behest of others, and who owes no one for his rite of passage to that Office.

Am I under any delusion that the billions of dollars of obstacles that the Parties have successfully placed in the way of any legitimate competition won’t be an almost insurmountable challenge?  No.  However, I rather doubt that those who signed the Declaration of Independence were ignorant of the odds against their success in breaking away from the suppression of Great Britain (the most powerful nation on Earth at the time).

That being said, it is reasonable to ask what the impetus is for voluntarily taking on such an incredible challenge.  It can be found at the beginning of the next paragraph of the Declaration itself:

“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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

It is my belief that all men are indeed “created equal;” not that they are identical or shall be entitled to rewards that do not correspond to their unique talents and efforts, but that they should be given an equal opportunity to pursue their “Happiness” as they choose to define it.  That is the essence of the unalienable rights of “Liberty” and the “pursuit of Happiness” to which we are guaranteed.

Allow me to make two additional observations in this regard.

First:  there is no asterisk after the phrase “all men are created equal.”  It doesn’t say, “except for…” a particular race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc.  It says “all.”

Second:  the only unalienable right that is not absolute is “Happiness.”  It is qualified by the word “pursuit.”  The Declaration does not guarantee “Happiness.”  It merely guarantees the “pursuit of Happiness.”

This is an important distinction because Party politicians, who pander for votes by offering programs that promise “Happiness,” not only ignore this distinction but actually conspire against it.  To suggest that the Government has a responsibility to guarantee “Happiness” is to betray your unalienable right to “Liberty” as well.

You see, if the Government has the responsibility to guarantee “Happiness,” it must also inherently have the right to define it.  Once the Government begins to define “Happiness” for you, it will begin to erode your “Liberty” to define it for yourself.

Think about that.

If the Government pays for your education, it can define where you can go to school and what you can learn.  If it pays for your housing, it can prescribe what type and size of home you can have and where it is located.  If it pays for your healthcare, it can determine what treatment you can receive, from whom you can receive it, and if you can receive it at all.

Does that constitute “Liberty” in your mind?

Now, let’s examine your “Happiness” as well.  As the Government’s role in your “Life” expands, will you be able to exercise the choices that will make you happy as you choose to define it, or will you have forfeited an ever-increasing share of your independence?

If you haven’t quite grasped the answer to that question, consider the next sentence of the Declaration, which states, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

The only reason that our Government exists is to secure our “unalienable Rights.”  It doesn’t have the authority to grant “Rights” to us.  It only has the authority to “secure” them.  Beyond that, its “power” is derived only through our consent.  If we say, “No,” the answer is “No.”

These are the fundamental values upon which this great experiment called the United States was founded.  Where are they within the context of today’s political environment?

Do we still “hold these truths to be self-evident,” or have we allowed the political Parties to cast doubt upon their veracity?

Do our politicians’ actions reflect the belief “that all men are created equal,” or do they promise programs that suggest that certain classes or categories of individuals generically require special assistance or consideration to compete in a free society?  Many of these programs are just a politically correct way of deepening the societal misconceptions that have been oppressing these same classes and categories of people for centuries.

Why not actually treat people as equals for a change?  Perhaps it would break the cycle of dependence, and these individuals would begin to assert their “Liberty” in a “pursuit of Happiness” that would allow them to fulfill their potential rather than remain reliant upon the Government for assistance.

The political argument against testing that element of the Declaration is that the Parties would risk surrendering the control they exert over the purported benefactors of their largess.  While the 13th Amendment may have ended overt slavery in our society, the Parties have assiduously preserved the role of master.  They simply administer it in a more subtle and insidious manner.

We have come to a time when Party politicians will promise you anything. They will then emote phrases like “Vote for me…my opponent doesn’t care about you like I do…I feel your pain” in an emotional plea that doesn’t even constitute good theater.  They are driven by a theory that can best be described as the Declaration of Dependence; a belief that if they can convince you that you need to depend on them, they will be able to attract your money and control your vote.

Unfortunately, they have been right in the past.  They have bought votes with false promises betting on the hope that people will forget over time:  hope; change; transparency; bigger Government; smaller Government; invasion; withdrawal; they offer you whatever you might want to believe.  They have conditioned you to become dependent upon them by pretending they know what’s best for you; just as King George did back in the 1770s.  They are the Monarchs of the modern era.

When they are threatened by a legitimate non-Party candidate, they create fear and prey upon it.  They tell you that an independent candidate can’t win.  Then, they tell you that an independent candidate will only pull votes from your Party; that the other Party’s candidate is so horrible that you can’t afford to “waste” your vote on an independent candidate who may have better solutions; that the opposing Party is so repugnant you have to vote for the “lesser of two evils” … and you do.

You truly waste your vote because you don’t exercise the “Liberty” you enjoy to vote for the candidate with the best leadership skills and solutions; the candidate who would provide the greatest probability of success for the country.  You default to “the lesser of two evils” and you essentially surrender your vote to the Party.  You vote as you’re told to vote.

As a result, nothing changes.

How can you summon the courage to express your outrage; to do what you fundamentally know is in your best interest and the best interest of our Nation?  You need look no further than the Declaration of Independence.  It guides us as follows:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

This is not to endorse any form of political coup, but rather to reflect upon our “Right…to alter” our form of Government, which can be done gracefully at the ballot box.  We can indeed “institute a new Government” by changing our representation.  We only need to determine which leaders are truly capable of “laying its foundation on such principles…as…seem most likely to effect (our) Safety and Happiness.”

The Declaration warns us that “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

This suggests that we should not randomly embrace change just for the sake of change.  Instead, it reminds us that we should expect to experience a bit of suffering.

This clearly reflects where we are today.  Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult to disregard the suffering we have endured and to ignore the promise of more in the future.

Then, the Declaration continues:  “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.”

Are we at this tipping point?  No.  However, we are drawing dangerously close to it.

As the Government drifts further away from “securing” our “Rights” and more toward a regulatory environment that restricts them, and as the “abuses and usurpations … evinces a design to reduce them,” it becomes our “right,” and in fact, our “duty” to do something about it.

The good news is that we can work within the bounds of our democratic Republic to improve it rather than having to “throw off such Government” as our Founding Fathers had to do.

They gave us a great gift:  the most remarkable and successful form of Government the world has ever known.

The United States continues to attract more legal immigrants than the rest of the countries in the world combined, and it does so for a reason.  We provide the opportunity for individuals to determine their own destinies.  We operate an economic system that still rewards ingenuity and effort despite the corrupting element of greed that has increasingly disrupted its efficiency.  Most importantly, we have the values and direction of the Declaration of Independence to remind us of who we are and why we are who we are.

That is why I am seeking to serve in the capacity of President of the United States.  We still have greatness within our grasp.  It is not too late to return to our core principles, to establish a culture whose actions truly reflect the belief that “all men are created equal,” to refocus on individual “Liberty,” and to allow individuals to decide for themselves what course their “pursuit of Happiness” should take.

I am not running for the Office of President of the United States because of ego.  I am simply eager to help fix our problems rather than fix the blame. I am ready to work full-time for the People and to begin to rebuild consensus among those who are more inclined to favor their Party’s platform.  The only caveat I apply to achieving consensus is that it must be in alignment with the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence and consistent with the Constitution that I will be taking an oath to “preserve, protect, and defend.”

So, on this Fourth of July, I have to admit my “dependence.”  I am dependent upon having someone in the media demonstrate a respect for the responsibility that is inherently intertwined with Freedom of the Press by beginning to report my candidacy with a modicum of the exposure they afford the Party candidates. Additionally, I am dependent upon your willingness to exercise your independence when it comes to deciding whom you wish to honor with your vote to lead our great Nation.  If you have any doubts, ask yourself a simple question:  Would you have had the courage to sign the Declaration of Independence?  I believe you already have my answer.  Happy Independence Day!


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A President for the People, in the Communities section of The Washington Times.