The great experiment endures

By Observer editorial July 03, 2013 12:27 pm

Framed against the usual festivities associated with the Fourth of July holiday it is often easy to forget just how close the whole American independence effort came to failure.

We often sort of take it for granted that, as Americans, pretty much everything we’ve accomplished in our storied history as a nation was foreordained. 

That is a nice thought, but not exactly accurate.

For example, it took the 13 colonies seven years to finally emerge victorious from Great Britain and secure the chance to execute the great experiment we call democracy. On the way to that victory there occurred many missteps and defeats. 

Tomorrow’s holiday — the official observance of the actions of the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 — marks in many ways a brief period of respite for the nation. There remains little doubt the nation as it stands in 2013 is saddled with an array of difficult and contentious issues. Yet, the Fourth of July bestows upon all of us — alongside the fireworks and barbecues — a moment to reflect on the fact that the great test of democracy, fashioned by the Founding Fathers, endures.

We still conduct free elections; America still transfers political power in a peaceful manner. We have challenges — many of them very serious with long-term implications regarding what is, and what is not, constitutional — yet our experiment sustains, and often reinvents itself, constantly.

Tomorrow’s holiday should be about many things — family and fun just to name just two — but it should also be a moment, a time, to remember that despite all of the nation’s perceived flaws, we are a democracy still going strong more than 200 years after a group of brave men decided to risk it all for liberty.

Have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July.