The Fourth of July ought surely, and above all else, to be a celebration of Tom Paine’s resolve.
As the American colonies moved tentatively toward the fateful declaration of independence in those middle years of the 177Os, it was Paine who urged them to embrace the revolutionary spirit of that enlightened age and to get on with the cutting of the colonial bond.
“The cause of America,” Paine wrote,” is in great measure the cause of all mankind.”
The very future of freedom depended on it.
Yes, of course, the pursuit of liberty was frightening — especially when its pursuit was sure to inspire the mad wrath of King George III. “[But]” like all other steps which we have already passed over,” Paine suggested to the colonials, “[Affronting the king and his empire] will in a little time become familiar and agreeable: and until an independence is declared, the continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with thoughts of its necessity.”
Confronting a tyrannical ruler named George is always difficult.
But necessity of it remains constant across our history.
Just as there were many 18th-century Americans who knew that King George and his aristocratic circle had to be seen off but feared the demands of the endeavor, so there are many 21st-century Americans who know that the madness of a president named George and his prince regent, Dick Cheney, must be ended. Yet, they avoid the inevitable demands of the impeachment power conjured by the founders of the Republic and intended for application in moments such as this.
Now that Cheney has attempted to declare himself as no longer bound by the requirements of the executive branch of the federal government established in the Constitution, even as he remains unwilling to submit himself to those of the legislative branch, more than a little evidence suggests that he has assumed the mantle of a monarch.
Certainly the description fits the vice president. Did not Paine anticipate Cheney when he wrote: “Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”