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America's rebellions are born of anger and energy

Tomorrow is the 248th anniversary of the Continental Congress passing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The easy thought, the belief that the colonists rose up with one voice in kicking the Brits out and demanding self-representation and democracy is a nice story, but not completely true.

The anger, energy and righteousness throughout the 1760s and early 1770s leading up to war with Great Britain came from a minority of the population.

Historians estimate that perhaps 20% of people in the 13 colonies were ardent patriots working toward revolution – and independence. They estimate as much as 20% of people wanted King George III to maintain his rule. Occupying the vast middle was the majority of the population.

Consider: the Congress approving the Declaration of Independence was the elite leadership of a fraction of the entire population. In every colony, opinion was divided.

So these words we want our school children to know are, if not a lie, then perhaps something closer to a fairy tale written by the winners.

For it was not “one people” agreeing on July 4, 1776, but merely the delegates representing the patriots. The flowery language:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another.”

That is poetic but not accurately portraying colonial sentiment.

That is how the Continental Congress delegates wanted reality to be.

A more measured assessment is that the colonies were led into rebellion by a constant loud, consistent message of blame, division and dissent. The rebels were united, cohesive, on message and committed to violence to gain their ends.

The Boston Tea Party? A few focused, well prepared and determined individuals acted swiftly and with the element of surprise. They then claimed success and marketed it to the world as a deed done for the good of the people.

Margaret Meade supposedly wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed individuals can change the world.” That is right: The organized, relentless and righteous create energy generating momentum for their cause. That was clear in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection on the nation’s Capital.

In November, Donald Trump may win 49 to 59 percent of the vote. Probably not half his supporters will embrace the idea of armed rebellion, much less take action. Some much smaller percentage almost certainly will.

But they are not the important players in this year’s election drama.

Instead, the critical decisions makers if we are keeping this republic are the people reading this editorial and their neighbors in the 98257, 98273 and 98274 ZIP codes. Actually, it is people in every ZIP code in the country that will decide if we are keeping both the republic and the very foundations of democracy.

When the ardent, angry, righteous and energetic voices cry again to storm the steps of the nation’s Capital, it will be the millions of people watching on whatever screen they use that will decide our future.

It is the vast middle – the rest of us – that will lean left, lean right, accept or get pulled into the maelstrom of discontent. Or citizens will stand for the principles their actions will prove they actually believe. Their actions will decide the country’s fate both before and after election day this November.

For what is absolutely up to us, We the People, as certainly as the last line above where those founding Fathers placed their signatures on July 4, 1776, is whether we will or we will not: “mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”


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