Op-ed: Independence fast-forwarded

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, July 4, 2015 4:18pm
  • Opinion

Imagine if we’d had Twitter in our revolutionary days, and the Declaration was a Tweet of Independence: “Yo @King George. We are so outta here!” None of that “life, liberty and the purfuit of happinef” jazz. Imagine a modern war waged on social media. No need for Paul Revere’s “One if by land, two if by sea” rigmarole, which may have been a fiction concocted by Henry Longfellow anyway. No matter; @Reverep could have just taken a picture on ye olde smartphone and put it out on the Internet.

But noooo. Instead, we were left with a wordy document that most of us remember mainly because of that narcissistic signature by the guy for whom they named an insurance company. And what did we get from the flowery words? “Just powers from the consent of the governed”? Well, kind of.

It’s true that we hold elections. But it’s also true that those elections are largely bought and paid for by the American aristocracy. They’re sort of similar to kings and queens, except they have more power. Let’s face it — the Founding Fathers probably didn’t anticipate “Citizens United.” Maybe they would have if there had been some mothers involved, but they weren’t.

Still, we mark the anniversary every July 4th, and mainly celebrate that it’s a day off or, as Revere would have tweeted, “Three if by weekend.” We pause for parades and fireworks, and try to forget the realities of our nation 239 years later.

Frankly, the fear of a terrorist attack puts a bit of a pall on the festivities, certainly for those whose job it is to prevent one. Every year the threat gets more real. Another factor that dims the luster is a general malaise about how our political system has evolved.

Those who even bother to pay attention in the United States are bitterly divided between liberal and conservative points of view. Crowded out are those who take bits from both sides. Their moderate views and a spirit of accommodation are swept aside. Those in one camp or the other live on a constant roller coaster.

The left side of the barricades was on a high a week ago, because the Supreme Court — the same one that progressives reviled because of its Citizens United decision — in just two days ruled that a legislative semantic slip-up wouldn’t wipe out Obamacare, and then a decision allowing same-sex marriages to be the law of the land. “Well, maybe,” the lefties conceded, “some of the justices on the right aren’t all that bad.” That changed after just a weekend, when those same guys in robes decided to seriously rein in massive environmental regulations. “OMG, maybe they ARE that bad!”

The political seesaw also goes nonstop for conservatives. In the establishment wing, the polite right, the Chamber of Commerce was applauding Barack Obama of all people, because he had joined forces with them and their congressional GOP supporters to maneuver passage of trade bill “fast track” authority, which makes it easier to get a massive agreement with Pacific nations, sticking it to American workers. Then a day or so later, they were back to their routine of condemning him because he wanted to make it more difficult for businesses to cheat those workers out of overtime pay.

Oh yes, as we celebrate our nation’s birth, let us not forget that when it comes to money, we generally decide not to hang together but to hang separately, with employees and employers in a constant battle. Any remnant of established relationships is shredded by the same high tech that has brought us Twitter, Facebook, etc.

It’s only going to get worse. Borders mean nothing in cyberworld. The “course of human events” has brought us to where we are citizens of the world, trying to cling to rights and protections that explode like Roman candles — actually faster, with the instant click of a mouse.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Robert Myers, R-North Pole, read through one of 41 amendments submitted to the state’s omnibus budget bill being debate on the floor of the Alaska State Senate on Monday, May 9, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Opinion: The Alaska Senate’s foolish gamble

“All these conservative people just spent all our money”

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (logo provided)
Point of View: A few ideas for Mental Health Awareness Month

What are some things you can practice this month and subsequently apply to your life?

Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes. (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: 1 candidate dined, 47 to go

By Alex Koplin Last month, I wrote a satirical piece for the… Continue reading

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire impairs visibility on the Sterling Highway on Aug. 20, 2019. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: Alaskans should prepare for wildfire season

Several past large fire seasons followed snowy winters or unusually rainy springs

The logo of the Homer Trails Alliance.
Point of View: Connecting our community through trails

Homer is booming with housing development and the viability of long-standing trails is threatened

A copy of the State of Alaska Official Ballot for the June 11, 2022, Special Primary Election is photographed on May 2, 2022. (Peninsula Clarion staff)
How do I choose a candidate for this Special Primary Election?

You could start by making a list of your top choices with the issues they support that you care about

The Swan Lake Fire can be seen from above on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information)
Opinion: Supporting and protecting Alaskans during breakup and fire season

Our mantra is Team Alaska — we are here to help Alaskans and our communities.

Most Read