It’s the day after the Fourth of July. People are back from the beach, stuffed from a cookout, maybe winding up a vacation. Most are cognizant of the last day as the anniversary of our founding as a nation and are glad for it.

However in this time and place, when some question the validity of the American experiment and engage in mindless masochism, we should not only remember our founding but also consider what a strange thing it was in the first place. We must recall that representative democracy is a fragile thing and actually a historical anomaly.

In our case we were rebelling against the greatest power in the world, Great Britain. More than a few of our own Founders pointed out this was folly. Thomas Jefferson said not too many years before our revolution that all he wanted was the natural rights of a freeborn Englishman.

Then there was the military balance. How were a bunch of non-trained farmers and clerks supposed to beat the victors of Agincourt and Ramilles? Get around the Royal Navy? Fat chance. It would have remained that way if the French hadn’t intervened on our side, bankrupting themselves in the process. We should remember that when we consider the French and their oftentimes exasperating international behavior.

There is even a school of thought that says we would have been better if the revolution had failed and the Founders hung as traitors. Result? Slavery abolished sooner, likely no civil war, 600,000 more men to grow the country and settle the West a generation earlier, the country richer because of increased trade with Great Britain and no cost of a civil war. The coasts would have been protected by the Royal Navy and obviously no war of 1812. Probably seats in Parliament to assure our interests. Such may have been the benefits of British rule after 1776. They are tempting.

But one thing is missing, the right of free men to rule themselves. Throw into that inate American egalitarianism, as opposed to the British class system and attendant aristocracy, and you have two nations that had grown too far apart for an amicable reconciliation. It’s quite a story, but the larger picture is even more astonishing.

Do you support individual military members being able to opt out of getting the COVID vaccine?

By completing the poll, you agree to receive emails from, occasional offers from our partners and that you've read and agree to our privacy policy and legal statement.

Since the beginning of civilization men had been ruled by kings. Warrior kings, priest kings, philosopher kings, and tyrants had governed with various degrees of success and justice. Yes, the British and a very few others had blazed the way for representative democracy.

However, no nation to that point had been founded on the idea of a people ruling themselves through elected representatives. None. Nada. Zilch. That’s the real miracle, the great anomaly. In Philadelphia in 1776 men of genius and honor gathered in one place and bequeathed to us this imperfect republic. It had never happened before. It has happened since in other places, but we were the first. We broke the mold. We changed the world, for the better. And still, as politicians come and go, we continue that change every day our flag flies over a free country. It is a legacy worth remembering.