Much to the chagrin of many people with tact, politicians have an uncomfortable tendency to politicize national tragedies and celebrations. The Sandy Hook school shooting became a fight for gun control. The Oklahoma tornado led to discussions on climate change. But the newest politicization of a national event by Nancy Pelosi is quite honestly one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever heard.
In her weekly press conference the week before Independence Day, Representative Pelosi welcomed in the upcoming Fourth of July holiday by saying, “Next week, when we celebrate Independence Day we’ll also be observing health independence…This week marks one year since the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. It captures the spirit of our founders.”
I was more than a little unsure precisely how forcing Americans to buy into a government-controlled health care system was in any way reminiscent of the spirit of our founders. Ms. Pelosi clarified this statement by quoting the Declaration of Independence: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Affordable Care Act offers just that: a healthier life, and liberty to pursue a person’s happiness.”
My first objection to this statement is that it twists the words of the Declaration of Independence and uses them to prove a point fundamentally contradictory to the document’s original intent. The Declaration of Independence was America’s way of announcing to the world that we were embarking upon a momentous journey of freedom. We were freeing ourselves from the centuries-old system that dictated the common man was to bow before the will of the leaders. We sought liberty to pursue our own interests, not the interests (such as health care plans) the government thought it best for us to pursue.
Second, this incident is an example of a much broader problem. The sacred values on which our country was built are becoming considerably less honored. Memorial Day is a great weekend for sales, Presidents’ Day has become a much-needed long weekend to break up the monotony of February, and the Fourth of July is now about hot dog eating contests (and, apparently, Obamacare).
Instead of discussing the true meaning of these patriotic days, politicians try to mold whatever hot topic is most important to them into something that sounds appropriate to discuss in relation to the holiday. This leads to awkward and inappropriate statements, such as Ms. Pelosi’s remark that, “If Paul Revere were here today, we would need someone like him to be running through the streets saying, ‘sequester is coming!’”
Independence Day should be a day spent remembering all that the American colonists sacrificed to become citizens of their own new nation. The only political purpose of the day should be one of civic education- reminding the American people just what this country was intended to be, and how far off the mark we’ve strayed.Published in