The Declaration of Independence
When the Declaration of Independence was signed, the world was an extremely different place. Many of the challenges of today simply did not exist. However, there is one important factor that the signers of the Declaration recognized as constant: the need for a government that represents the people and provides the opportunity for all to succeed. These founding fathers did not seek anarchy; rather, they wanted a government that addressed the needs of the people.
This idea of a government that is meant to serve rather than rule its people is revealed in perhaps the most famous passage in the declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Too long had the people been under the rule of a distant government that cared little for the needs of the people. The people of America had few rights and no voice. The Declaration of Independence was meant to give the citizens of the United States that voice. When we elect a representative to the government, we are voicing our needs and ideals, hoping that the candidate we choose will speak for each of us.
The Declaration is also a symbol of the unique nature of our nation, indicating that the members of the United States would exist “as free and independent states”. At the same time, representatives of each of the different colonies also said “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” This means that while each state may make its own decisions about many issues, it is equally important to work together for the good of the nation as a whole. This dichotomy perfectly illustrates how our government should work. All levels of the government – federal, state, and local- should provide many varied voices of differing opinions coming together to benefit all Americans.
The importance of participation in this system cannot be understated. By writing letters and staging peaceful protests, the government is made aware of the needs of the people at every level. We are given the opportunity to stand up for our rights and ideals without threat of punishment. Many countries in the world are not so fortunate. However, other rights pale in comparison to the most important interaction of all – voting. As a citizen of these great states, voting is our way of being part of the government, of seeing that our needs and concerns are addressed. Voting is a great responsibility and a gift from the founders of our country. Don’t throw this gift away. Exercise your rights. Vote.