The Fourth of July

I’m getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July though probably at home. My husband and I were invited to a fun beach party where we have gone before to watch the fireworks and ordinarily that’s a lot of fun. But at 34 weeks pregnant, I cannot stand the uneven nature of sand at the moment. It’s uneven so it makes walking more difficult. So this year we might chill at home.

Who knows though as my husband is an immigrant and I teach AP US History and AP US Government for a living. The 4th of July is the biggest deal and when I decorated a classroom my room always felt like the 4th, everyday.

So when I look into the world today, I wonder are we that different than the founding fathers? I would never think of a connection to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, George Washington or any of the founders before. I think it was the wigs and outfits of the time. It’s harder to make a personal connection with these men.

Yet at the time, our founders were peaceful men for the most part but they did not believe that their government represented their interests. At the heart of Britex and at the heart of American politics is the same question ‘does the government represent us?’ Conspiracy theories are alive and well, which the internet promulgates; however, everyone has felt that question recently. Our leaders are seen as out of touch with the daily lives of citizens and this is something I completely understand.

Today we celebrate learned men in the United States who wrote down on a piece of paper we called the “Declaration of Independence” to describe the grievances in a positive, literate, well thought out manner. It wasn’t anti-intellectual. It was quite the opposite, though perhaps all the readers of ‘Common Sense’ were not as brilliant as the founders. I wasn’t there. I just teach about it.

We also celebrate with fireworks how great America truly is. It’s the adopted home of every person here, and my ancestors moved here in 1607. My ancestors were around when all the big 4th of July events of 1776 were created. We have a lot of issues that as voters we have to face in November, but that is something amazing our ancestors left for us. We have a choice. We can accept or reject. However when we talk politics and celebrate the 4th, I hope people cherish this right to vote. If we do not use the right then other people make the choices for us and then we truly are in that situation where the government does not truly represent us. Those who choose not to vote are choosing not to be heard, and in this time of ‘what kind of government do we want’, a nonvote can be understood to mean ‘the rich and powerful can continue to do whatever they want.’

So I end today’s blog with a reminder that the United States is pretty awesome. We have rights. Let’s celebrate, but let’s also remember that voting is how your voice is heard.