Independence Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. While I was born a US citizen, my first nine years were spent overseas. This has embedded in me a deep appreciation for how special this country is. Joining me to discuss this topic is Jeff Utsch. He is a constitutional scholar and Senior Faculty Lead Instructor at the Leadership and Freedom Center in Gettysburg. Jeff also founded the Heirs of the Republic. He is a former All-American swimmer and put those skills to work training Special Forces personnel in tactical swimming.
Our conversation centers around an article titled “What Makes America Exceptional”, published in 2019by John Steel Gordon.
Independence Day should remind us that our constitution is truly an exceptional document, created by a group of political amateurs. At that point in time, no other nation had a constitution and Jeff believes its creation was providential. Jeff shares that many Americans early on wanted to address grievances against the crown but were not openly seeking revolution. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet Common Sense (Which sold 150,000 copies in a matter of a few weeks) was very influential in moving the colonies in that direction.
In Gordon’s article he proposes several providential things that made the unique emergence of our nation possible including geography and the fact that the colonies already had lots of experience with local governance. Jeff proposes that the “colonial mindset” turned into the “American mindset” in March of 1775 when Patrick Henry gave his famous speech. (“Give me liberty or give me death”) He also introduces us to other influential voices like James Otis.
Jeff also points out the dangers of revisionist history and current concerns about branches abdicating their constitutional powers. We agree that average citizens must reengage and exercise their role in government.
TAKEAWAY: “A people are free to the extent their government faithfully operates within the sphere of legitimate powers delegated to it by its citizens”.