Monday, July 4, 2011

#185 / Our "Political" Holiday

The Fourth of July is preeminently a “political” holiday, associated with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

It is obvious, but may bear mentioning, that we wouldn’t have the holiday if the Revolution had not been successful. Saying that you are going to do something, and then not actually accomplishing it, doesn’t lead to a celebration. What counts is following through. Our most important political achievement is not actually contained in the Declaration of Independence but in the Constitution, which translated that “declaration” into a genuine political reality.

The political reality of American politics is our commitment to a system of democratic and representative self-government. If you think about it, the politics we have created works (or at least is
supposed to work) on the model of the Declaration of Independence. We “declare” what we are going to do by enacting a law. We then follow the law and (we hope) achieve the results we said we wanted to. That’s the way our politics is supposed to work, and it has worked that way often enough to celebrate the system. Land use planning is a perfect example of the process. We debate and discuss what we want, adopt a plan, and then follow the plan to create the kind of community we think is best.

I’ve played a part in that land use planning process in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, as so many local residents have. That
is something worth celebrating!

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