The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence 

The Constitution, then, is a work of art. It gives America its form. To fully know the ‘cause”, or purpose, of America, one must know the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, its author, mentioned four thinkers for their contribution to molding “the American mind”: Aristotle, Cicero, Algernon Sidney, and John Locke. 

The soul of the American founding is located in the enduring political principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence

 The meaning of these principles, especially equality, is decisively different than the definition given to those principles by modern progressivism. 

Equality means that nature ordains no one to be the ruler of any other person. Each human being is also equal in his natural rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights are inalienable and possessed simply by virtue of being human. 

Equality, liberty, and natural rights require that legitimate government be republican. The truth that all human beings are born free, equal, and independent means that a just government must be based on the consent of the governed – a consent which must be expressed through ongoing elections. The political theory of the Declaration of Independence requires that government secure the natural rights of the citizens through adopting and enforcing criminal laws; adopting and enforcing civil laws regarding property, family, education, and provision for the poor; and providing for national defense. 

If a political party fails to operate according to these principles, the people have a right and duty to establish a new system to secure their rights that are deemed to be in jeopardy by the  failing controlling system that is in place…by their vote.

The people thus play a vital role in protecting their rights. They must be educated in “religion, morality, and knowledge”. A people that is not virtuous will not be able to perpetuate free government. 

Modern liberalism uses the same language of “equality” as the Declaration of Independence. Yet modern liberals mean something altogether different than what the Founders meant by those words. For the Progressives, “equality”means that government must redistribute wealth to provide equal access to resources. This idea necessitates government programs that help mankind liberate itself from its “natural limitations”. 

The declaration of Independence and modern Progressivism are fundamentally opposed to each other. The modern misunderstanding of “equality” threatens the whole of the American constitutional and moral order. 

Source: Hillsdale College

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