Politics Magazine

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

Posted on the 21 August 2017 by Jobsanger
Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness
The words above are from this nation's Declaration of Independence - a document whose importance is surpassed only by the United States Constitution. The words were used as the justification for breaking away from England, and establishing our own nation -- and they are words that all Americans say they believe.
But do we all really believe in those words? Do we really think all Americans have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I think most Americans do believe that, but there is an element in this country (mostly on the extreme right) who don't believe those words should guide this country. They would deny all three of those "unalienable" rights to accomplish their own purposes (to get and retain power).
What does a right to life actually mean? In the most basic sense, just the right to continue living on this earth. But to continue living, a person must have some basic things. They must have food, shelter, and medical care. Without any of these three necessities, a person's life is shortened or ended.
It seems obvious to me that to provide the right to life for all Americans, the government (which in our democracy is us -- the people) must provide assistance to the disadvantaged among us -- those who through no fault of their own cannot provide their own food, shelter, and medical care. We should do this both to fulfill the words of our Founding Fathers, but also out of common decency -- because we know it is the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, we have those (and sadly many are elected officials) who would deny their fellow citizens these basic necessities to sustain life. They would cut government programs providing food and shelter to the disadvantaged -- and eliminate programs that provide medical care to those who cannot afford expensive private insurance policies. And they would do it for the most venal of reasons -- to provide tax cuts and other giveaways to the richest people in the country (those who can already provide for their own necessities of life).
I submit this view violates both the spirit and the words written in our Declaration of Independence (which is the justification for the very existence of our nation). It is mean-spirited, indecent, and un-American.
Liberty is the sustaining of our freedom. It is the right to live as we please (as long as we don't deny the rights of others) and choose those who would lead our country.
The most important necessity for maintaining our liberty is the right to vote. This is a right that every citizen should have, and no citizen should be denied for any reason. Without the right to vote for everyone, our democracy is limited -- or extinguished altogether.
But there are those in this country who would deny the right to vote to some of our citizens. They do it to further their own ends, and they do it in a myriad of ways (voter ID laws, gerrymandering, limiting polling stations in certain areas, etc.). These people want to force their views on all Americans, even though they don't believe they can win a fairly-held election.
A second necessity for the preservation of our liberty (democracy) is a free and unfettered press. The press must be able to report the truth and inform the public, because without an informed public there can be no democracy. The press must be free of government pressure and influence, and have the ability to report the truth (regardless of who that hurts or helps). In fact, the only requirement that should be placed on the press is that what they report is true.
But there are those who don't respect truth or the ability of the press to report it. They want only their point of view represented (even if it can't be substantiated by facts), and they try to suppress and/or demonize those who report the truth. Sadly, the leader of this anti-truth movement at present is our president (and his die-hard supporters) -- who want to bail anything that disagrees with them as "fake news".
Those who would deny the vote to any Americans, or who would try to keep the truth from being reported, are trying to deny basic liberty to Americans -- and those pose a danger to our democracy.
The pursuit of happiness is listed third in this trilogy of rights, but it is no less important than the others. It is the ability of all citizens to make their own choices in life, to be able to go as far in life as their abilities and hard work will take them, and to be treated fairly with regard to the law and opportunity.
Sadly, there are also those in this country who would deny this pursuit of happiness to many citizens. The most egregious of these deniers would take us back to an America where rights were held only by white, male, heterosexuals. They would relegate minorities, women, and homosexuals to a second-class status -- making it much harder for them to pursue happiness in their own lives.
We have seen a resurgence of this kind of perverted thinking in this country recently, as some groups (KKK, white supremacists, neo-nazis, and other haters and bigots) seek to mainstream their own sick bigotry. They don't want a real democracy where all citizens have the right to pursue their own goals and live their lives as they please. They want to dictate to everyone else their own racism, misogyny, and homophobia. We cannot allow that to happen, as it is a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the American Dream, and common decency.
Do you, as an American, believe in the words in our Declaration of Independence -- that all men are created equal, and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? If so, then now is the time to step forward and do your part to make that a reality.

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