Independence for All

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Haphazard Historian.

Large political bodies eventually collapse under their own weight. Yet a collapse is not necessarily catastrophic, as pieces often tend to drift apart and establish their independence. The United States was itself birthed by this mechanism of unmanageable size. Having to oversee the needs of numerous citizens an ocean apart proved too unwieldy for the King of Great Britain. For reference, the United States had a population of around 5 million citizens and slaves when established, England at the time had a similarly sized population.

Today, the United States has a population of over 300 million citizens, yet representation of these citizens within government has not kept pace. In other words, as population increased, individual democratic influence decreased. Nowadays, twenty states each have populations greater or equal to that of the entire country when governmental structures were established. Many individual states have populations greater or equal to prominent countries within the world. Additionally, the land mass of the United States is more in line with a political region such as Europe rather than a single country.

While struggling to make their way in the world, it made sense for small groups of colonies to band together the best they could. But times change. The United States has grown so big that the seams holding it together are bursting once again. Systems that were established centuries ago are crushed under the weight of a hundred million. And make no mistake, this union was not a marriage based in love, the bond was contentious from the start. It took battles to form it and all out war to maintain it. There is bitterness on all sides.

It was a spirit of independence, both religious and commercial, that brought those early English and European colonists to the American continent. It was a desire to directly control the course of one’s life. People wanted to play a meaningful part in politics — and localities were small, giving each a greater impact within it. The best of times do not occur when success plateaus and bureaucracy sets in. No, the vibrancy of life occurs during a startup phase when experiments are common and individuals make the greatest impact with more meaningful contribution.

It is the American way to sever ties with systems that become stale or antagonistic to liberty, to adopt new ways that best secure the happiness of the people. If independence and self-governance is a thing to be celebrated, then surely such revelers must strive for similar ideals in their own lives. And to do so, the people must not have decreasing influence in government. The people’s capacity to enact their will must be maintained.

We would do well to remember that many colonies in America existed for a century and a half before merging into the United States. Despite ties and tradition, prudent people abandoned a government long established and instituted a new one that could better serve their needs. And make no mistake, alliances were quickly reestablished, but the people now felt the empowerment of independence and bargained accordingly.

“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. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”