The timing of Independence Day this year is quite fortuitous. At the risk of sounding like Thomas Friedman: America, inasmuch as it has a “national mood”, desperately needs a chance for healing.
Readers are too familiar with the past weeks’ negative headlines: terror attacks at home and abroad; fears of a global financial collapse because of “Brexit”; the looming realization that whoever enters the Oval Office will likely be disliked by a majority of the population.
First, allow me to provide some perspective. Despite what the media would have you believe, life is as good as it ever has been. Terrorism is awful, but asymmetric violence is a heckuva lot less-deadly than the massive nation-state on nation-state conflicts that were a hallmark of society pre-2000. As a result, less people die from violent conflicts each year than have ever before. Despite record-high gun ownership and a rash of high-profile shootings, gun deaths per capita have been declining for over a decade. Great Britain leaving the EU is not catastrophic; if replaced by reasonable, ad hoc free trade agreements, there’s a very good chance it increases European stability by reducing the number of potential geopolitical and economic fault lines.
Finally, if you’re one of many Americans who isn’t thrilled with your options for the presidency, fear not! Structurally, the presidency really isn’t that powerful. And for that we can thank our Founding Fathers, for whom an aversion to executive power was only one of many brilliant instincts. If we have the courage to abide by their Constitution-even when it’s inconvenient, or makes passing an ostensibly logical law more difficult-we will also find ourselves protected from despots.
Consider: while many deride the Constitution as an outdated document written by slave-owners, it would still prevent a president Trump or Clinton from, among other things: declaring war, sending troops abroad for a prolonged, non-emergency situation, drafting legislation, writing a budget, punishing people based on their religious beliefs, or imprisoning citizens without due process. On other important matters-installing federal judges, negotiating foreign treaties and trade agreements-the president must act with the consent of congress.
The Constitution remains a modern wonder; a grand experiment that is centuries later still the pinnacle of contemporary political thought. And it came about because a group of hardy individualists risked their lives to stand up for liberty.
So on this long weekend, I urge readers to appreciate the quite revolutionary (pun intended) concept that we are living through. The Founders did not rid the world of poverty or suffering or death, but they did bless us with a sustainable mechanism for collective prosperity and individual freedom.
My final request: drink good beer. Spend less time worrying about overhyped news and spend more time trying to find one of the following incredible brews: Dortmunder Lager (Great Lakes Brewery-OH), Prima Pils (Victory-PA), Hell or High Watermelon (21st Amendment-CA), Toasted Lager (Blue Point-NY), Mama’s Little Yella Pils (Oskar Blues-OR), or better yet, this:
Happy Independence Day.