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  by  Roy Beck

HAPPY 4th of July, American friends,

On one of the more difficult Independence Days of my life (how about yours?), I want to think more deeply about what we are celebrating. Or at least, what we should be celebrating.

INDEPENDENCE MEANT
SELF-DETERMINATION in 1776
-- and still means it today

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Well-crafted and well-enforced immigration policies are essential for any national community to have the blessings of self-determination.

Of course, one can mine many ore-filled veins of the Declaration of Independence for precious concepts about freedom, the nature of humans and governance. But after a few weeks of anticipating the coming Independence Day in the midst of national turmoil, I find myself focusing on the Declaration's concept of self-determination.

July 4, 1776 was the day of declaring that the people INSIDE the American colonies would not have their affairs decided by people OUTSIDE the colonies. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were insistent that the colonies would determine their own affairs.

Some people today are not sure that those early independent Americans made better decisions about all their affairs than the British Parliament or King might have made for them. But that wasn't and isn't the point, is it. Self-determination includes making your own mistakes. And the Founders of our country made plenty, even as they modeled an idea of self-determination that would sweep the world.

That novel idea of the self-determination of peoples is considered so self-evident now that the United Nations declares it a universal human right.

And for every country around the world, well-crafted and well-enforced immigration policies are essential for any national community to have the blessings of self-determination.

Civil rights icon Barbara Jordan was one of many towering leaders of this country who noted that you don't have a country if you don't have immigration restrictions that are enforced.

In that Spirit of '76 today, would we allow multi-national corporations to determine what our wages should be and which of our fellow citizens should be allowed to hold U.S. jobs? We have lost a fair amount of our self-determination by allowing those multi-national corporate lobbyists to dictate many aspects of labor economics through their access to huge quantities of foreign workers.

Fortunately, because of a recent Executive Order pausing a lot of the flow of foreign labor, we are seeing a small sign of declaring independence from the multi-nationals and their interference with our labor markets. Nonetheless, the EO lasts only to the end of the year, and the multi-nationals still have most of the access to foreign labor they had before the EO.

In the Spirit of '76, would we allow any citizens of other countries to decide on their own that they would help determine aspects of our national community's social and economic realities by merely deciding to overstay their visitor visas or illegally crossing our borders?

A national community does not have self-determination if it has no control over who is a member of that national community.

Civil rights icon Barbara Jordan was one of many towering leaders of this country who noted that you don't have a country if you don't have immigration restrictions that are enforced.

SIX GREAT DATES IN FULFILLING OUR MARCH OF SELF-DETERMINATION

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We've heard a lot of talk lately about holidays that should be declared and holidays that should be undeclared.

This can be helpful to keep us from taking holidays for granted, to endow them with special meaning for ourselves.

For me, the 4th of July remains our nation's greatest holiday because it is a celebration not only of an event but of an aspiration that has continually been more fulfilled by later events, all in the service of self-determination.

I celebrate all these OTHER "Independence" days which make it possible for me celebrate THIS 4th of July INDEPENDENCE DAY national holiday in all its complexity and history without apology or reticence.

During this time of great national discussion about matters of race, we cannot think about the founding of this country without recognizing what most of us always have -- that our nation was stitched together through a big compromise that involved the continuation of slavery in parts of it.

Nor can we ignore that the self-determination from within the American colonies and later the United States was exercised by a minority of the people (although even that level of the franchise without royalty or nobility was a revolutionary expansion).

In all things, of course, we must keep in mind the context of what was happening in the rest of the world at that time.

Perhaps we could be less disunited during our 4th of July celebrations if we could think of the holiday as commemorating the aspirational start of a process that continued through many other wonderful dates in our history.

This is your holiday, so what dates would YOU choose to be a part of our 4th of July celebrations?

I choose these six.

The first three were necessary steps toward the nation's self-determination and keeping decision-making out of the hands of foreign powers. The last three were stages of expanding which members of our national community would be making the decisions about our self-determination.

Today I celebrate the both the July 4 event and the July 4 aspirations that led to the broadening and deepening of the political franchise over succeeding generations.

July 4, 1776

Declaration of independence as a self-governing people.

Sep. 3, 1783

Treaty of Paris signed by Franklin, Adams and Jay with Britain conceding our independence.

June 21, 1788

The U.S. Constitution was ratified to provide the framework under which self-determination could be exercised and maintained in an orderly way.

Dec. 6, 1865

Ratification of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, thus expanding freedom (but not the vote franchise) to all residents of the self-determining national community and correcting the great failure of the original Constitution.

Feb. 3, 1870

Ratification of the 15th Amendment granting Black men the vote and to be among the self-determining.

Aug. 26, 1920

Ratification of the 19th Amendment granting all women the vote, and thus finally extending the franchise to all citizens of this self-determining country.
To me, Independence Day is about all of those, not just about 1776.

I celebrate all these other "Independence" days which make it possible for me celebrate this 4th of July INDEPENDENCE DAY national holiday in all its complexity and history without apology or reticence.

Thinking deeply about this holiday also convicts me to stand with all the citizen patriots of the past who knew they had always to work to make this a more perfect union.

My Big Six Independence Dates didn't complete that perfection. Many laws and changes in society have continued to be necessary to create an even more fair, more just and more sustainable self-determining national community. We at NumbersUSA are happy to be working with our more than 8 million online partners to play our role.

ROY BECK is Founder & President of NumbersUSA

Updated: Sun, Jul 19th 2020 @ 5:10pm EDT

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