Along with the picnics and fireworks, some Americans may give a passing thought to the men who gave us this blessed land and the rights and prosperity we enjoy today. The leaders of the Democratic Party won’t be among them.
It’s not just that we have a president who can’t quote the best-known lines in the Declaration of Independence. (Mr. Biden in 2020: “We hold these truths to be self-evident. All men and women are created, by the, you know, you know the thing”). We have a party that is unalterably opposed to the spirit of 1776.
The left has gone from absurdly claiming the mantle of the Founding Fathers — equating economic equality with political equality — to giving itself permission to hate them. The struggle today is between two competing 18th-century revolutions — those of America and France.
With critical race theory, the 1619 Project, and removing statues and renaming schools, the left is methodically canceling America’s history and heritage. The violence in the streets and violent rhetoric is part of the process.
With the Declaration and Constitution, the Founders gave us a system of government that springs from a sublime vision: political authority based on the consent of the governed, equality before the law and God-given rights — among them life and liberty, freedom of expression and religion, and the right to the means of self-defense.
The left’s assault on these rights includes abortion, cancel culture (the notion that expression of certain ideas is a form of violence), its Wall of Separation — the only wall it believes in — and the attack on gun rights.
Just a few years after the Constitution was adopted, a competing worldview arose, based not on the divine rights of kings, but on a perverse ideology that promised liberty but aimed at achieving an ant-hill society.
The ideology of Revolutionary France was collectivism, atheism and genocide as the means of projecting political power. The American Revolution is often symbolized by a quill pen. The French Revolution should be represented by the guillotine.
Our revolution gave us stability for 248 years and a system of government that became a model for new nations. Their revolution gave them the Reign of Terror, a toxic ideology (the left was born in the flames of Revolutionary France), Napoleon and five republics since 1792.
The left has rejected the principles of 1776 for those of 1789 — revised and updated by the revolution of 1917.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders feel more affinity for the regimes in Venezuela and Cuba than our own system of government. They believe Americans have a right to kill unborn children but not to refuse vaccination, drive a gas-powered car, own a gun or keep more than a modicum of their income.
Their war on Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues is relentless: They were slave-owning aristocrats who displaced American Indians, exploited the lower class and had scant regard for the Earth, they tell us. As advocates of alternative lifestyles, you’d think they would at least appreciate the powdered wigs and buckled shoes.
In the minds of the young, the left has replaced America the beautiful with America the ugly — America the racist, America the colonialist and America the oppressive. The slander permeates government, movies, television, the news media, public education and academia.
The heroes of the left are Robespierre and his Jacobins — the men whose ideology they would substitute for the values of the founders.
The war used to be covert. Now, it’s very much in the open — a struggle to create a Republic of Virtue.
You can see it in the mobs surging in the streets for the past two years — rioting for something vaguely called “racial justice” and “women’s rights,” and for the sheer nihilistic joy of destroying as much as possible of the nation they despise. They even attacked the Vermont legislature after it enacted abortion on demand through the ninth month.
You can see it in the 3,500 classrooms that use the 1619 Project and in the left’s attempt to expand its political power, with calls to pack the Supreme Court, eliminate the legislative veto and bestow statehood on D.C., and in the Jan. 6 committee of public safety and the process of importing a new electorate.
Today’s American left is a product of Bastille Day and not the Fourth of July.
We must awaken the slumbering middle. The nation is poised on a razor’s edge and could fall either way. It’s 1776 or 1789 — there is no middle ground.
• Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer and syndicated columnist.