Sarasota News Leader

07/04/2014

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INDEPENDENCE DAY MOSTLY FOR THE INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY EDITORIAL OPINION EDITORIAL As Americans gather around the country to celebrate Independence Day, the activities likely will feature outdoor-grilled foods, fire- works and well-meaning speeches about how wonderful our nation is and how wise our Founders were in starting us on the path to self-determination. And while there truly is much to celebrate about our way of life and the unique place our country has in history, there also is a dark side … the cracks in our national façade of excep- tionalism that reveal the "two Americas" described by former vice presidential nomi- nee John Edwards. When the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the belief that all were gifted by the Creator with "unalienable rights" that included "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" was both a legal indictment of British hegemony and an assertion that the Colonial peoples had earned — through blood, sweat and toil — the right to govern themselves, free of for- eign interference. But the Declaration of Independence also was a philosophical treatise that set forth import- ant principles in maintaining the affairs of the people, providing inspiration to some of our nation's greatest statesmen. Now, 238 years later, many of those lofty ideals remain elusive for too great a portion of the populace. American lives have been lost at the hands of other Americans in the OPINION

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