Reflections on Why We Celebrate July 4th and What is at Risk

Photo credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro

The United States has just changed dramatically and we have new unexpected responsibilities that call for courage and unity.
July 4th in the United States celebrates liberation from authoritarian monarchal governance founded on a principle, stated in the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal.” That seed, when stated in the 18th century did not include woman, nor one fifth of the population living in slavery, nor did it embrace equality in civic participation of propertied white men and those without property. That seed has grown into a principle influencing governance the world over wherein the legitimacy of governance is measured by ensuring the dignity of all citizens, regardless of color, religion, race, or gender.
The only way the inherent dignity of each individual can be protected is through the rule of law wherein no one, especially those with the most power, is above its constraints. Otherwise, those with power will inevitably apply the rule through law, where citizens serve them as employees of the state rather than as public servants, including presidents, as employees of the people.
 We thought, wrongly, that the institutions of law, especially the Supreme Court,  would uphold the principle that all people are equal under the law and that those with the most power have the highest obligation to be accountable to abide by its guardrails. It is shocking to see how brazenly Justices sitting today on the Supreme Court, who have ruled otherwise, lied to Congress on this issue. The Supreme Court of the United States has now stated that a person in the office of President, acting within the authority of the office with all its extraordinary powers, is immune from legal constraints.

We thought, wrongly, that it was accepted jurisprudence that those who have the right to use force must take their pledge uphold the law very seriously. This is particularly relevant as regards the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military force in human history.

Now, what is to happen if a sitting President, immune from prosecution, orders soldiers to attack innocent citizens? Are the agents of the President executing illegal conduct also immune? Are conversations relating to planning illegal activity undiscoverable? Can a President sell pardons or just give them away to anyone who has committed a crime under their instructions?
The reflections in the linked article below on the principled conduct of General Milley are particularly relevant now that Donald Trump could regain the Presidency with these new legal doctrines in place. Why? Because he has suggested execution for the General as a reward for what many, myself included, consider admirable conduct.  
We have entered dangerous waters. I hope you will join in defending democracy with appropriate vigor. In the past, I have pondered what we celebrate on July 4th in the United States and want to share some published thoughts on the matter. I hope you find them of value:

Huffington Post (July 5, 2011)

Daily Kos (July 12, 2023)

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