When I came across some poll numbers recently released by Rasmussen Reports which found that a majority of Americans say they strongly support the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, I admit I was pleasantly surprised. Although I’m typically not one to put all my faith into poll numbers, I do often find the results interesting. Since Rasmussen released these numbers on July 4th, it got me thinking about what exactly a majority of Americans really think about the Declaration.
Rasmussen found that 88% of Americans agree with the Declaration’s phrase “we are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s critical that this essential bedrock of the declaration itself; that our rights are not granted to us by governments but are instead inherit in our humanity and cannot be taken away is chiefly understood.
The report also found that 68% of Americans agree with the Declaration’s claim that “Governments derive their only just powers from the consent of the governed.” Although Rasmussen also reported earlier this year that a majority of Americans don’t believe the U.S. government is currently functioning through the consent of the governed, ascribing to this principle is key in holding true to the belief that those in government work for us.
I certainly believe that a majority of Americans holding strong to these principles is immensely significant, however I remain curious to know what a majority of Americans in the mainstream think about the less often discussed aspects of the declaration or what the document itself represents as a whole.
For instance: Would a majority of Americans agree that we have the right and duty to abolish an abusive government if it became necessary? Thomas Jefferson himself wrote in the declaration that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Here Jefferson isn’t just talking about voting in new faces or settling for another party to change things. He’s talking about scrapping one government in favor of another better suited in securing the rights of the people if so desired. Jefferson, as he’s been so known to support, is speaking of blatant revolution and its role as a natural course of human nature. To me, this seems like something the mainstream majority would not be too willing to accept and would instead relentlessly shun if brought up today.
Would a majority of Americans truly agree with the obligation of those living under tyranny to resist and even remove themselves from ties with a government whose actions are no longer friendly toward the liberty of the people through possible succession? After all, one cannot deny that the Declaration of Independence is itself one of succession from the rule of Great Britain. The States declared themselves to be “free and independent” from the authority of England and sought to totally dissolve their political relationship with the king. Jefferson portrayed this conviction when he wrote in the declaration that “these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved.”
With all the recent backlash and harsh rhetoric directed toward those who support the doctrine of states’ rights, would a majority of Americans fail to see that the Declaration of Independence is the ultimate justification for states’ rights and the sovereignty of the individual?
Even if a majority of Americans claim to support the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, I thoroughly believe it’s not only important to believe in what the document says, but what it actually is as well.Published in