"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wMonday, July 04, 2005

ONLY IN AMERICA: Still not sure what I'm going to do tonight but one thing is certain: I will not observe the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C. In fact, I couldn't think of a less appropriate place to celebrate my nation's birth.

Sorry, but I'm in no mood to watch the fireworks display from the National Mall and listen to the politicians issue more empty platitudes about freedom and democracy while they take an ever-so-brief break from trying to cheat and swindle voters, revoke more liberties, or cast about for dragons to slay. A good part of me wants to rent a truck, throw all my belongings into it, and take off across the country, never to return.

The get-the-hell-out-of-D.C. bug is nothing new, of course. George Washington abhorred the political atmosphere of the city and the constant squabbles had a lot to do with his decision not to stand for a third term. If you aren't a political animal or a social climber there have always been powerful disincentives to sticking around.

But this year seems worse, for a number of reasons. Recent Supreme Court verdicts loom large, as do statements by really reprehensible pols like Nancy Pelosi, who said that Congress shouldn't try to limit eminent domain takings because the Court had already ruled and -- I am not making this up -- "this is almost as if God has spoken."

Unlike some of my hipper-than-thou libertarian friends, I had never thought that we could work with liberals or their primary vehicle the Democratic Party. My point of view has, I think, been vindicated by the establishment left's reaction to what the court had to say on eminent domain or marijuana for the sick. In both cases, the Great and the Good have sided with Power over and against the little guy.

Ah, enough with the liberal-baiting. The problem goes deeper and D.C., I admit, is only partly to blame. While progressives have spent the last few years bemoaning phantom cuts in funding to government services, worrying that theocracy was about to descend, warning that the Republicans are set to repeal the New Deal, and sounding the alarm over an impending right-wing coup, I have watched another real horror story unfold.

That is, I have watched Republicans mortgage my future to buy the votes of old folks by agreeing to foot the bill for the prescription drugs of the richest group of seniors in the history of the world. I have seen them shrink from all manner of restraint on general or entitlement spending. I have been witness to an entire political class' attempts to try to insulate itself from criticism by turning the First Amendment on its head. I have grumbled ineffectually as government at all levels decided to push further and further into the regulation of our lives, through smoking bans, seatbelt laws, and the like.

You could wave off my complaints as libertarian sour grapes, I suppose. But I ask you to consider that many of our founders would be ashamed of what our nation is becoming. Tomorrow you can dismiss them as a bunch of nuts but, please, not today. They pledged their lives to the cause of our freedom and I ask that you shrug off your partisanship, your so-called realism, and your cynicism for one whole day to consider what their sacrifice accomplished.

posted by Jeremy at 12:54 AM