Frequently Searched

Enjoy Life This July 4 - It’s What the Founders Would Have Wanted

July 1, 2022

Every summer, as Americans look forward to the long Independence Day weekend, there’s always someone who admonishes us not to trivialize the holiday with barbecues, pool parties, or shopping sprees with friends. Instead, we’re told, we should commemorate the day with solemn thoughts of those who fought for American freedom.

But while we should certainly honor the memories of those who won America’s liberty, it’s wrong to spurn people who fill their time off with simple enjoyments. After all, that’s why we fight for freedom: to enjoy the fruits of our labors in company with our friends and families—free to not worry about politics.

Nobody understood that better than America’s founding fathers.

While in Paris in the midst of America’s fight for independence, John Adams wrote home to his wife Abigail about the purpose of his efforts: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”

In other words, the battle for independence was a struggle to secure Americans’ right to live their lives as they see fit. The blessing of establishing our constitutional system is that future generations would not be perpetually consumed with a fight for survival; instead, they’d be free to focus on improving their lives and shaping their own destinies.

Of course, a system that generates such a degree of human flourishing also enables its people to lose perspective. Throughout most of human history, and much of the world today, people toil under tyranny, fighting for their basic human rights. Yet many Americans disparage the alleged “materialism” of American society, and condemn the capitalism that makes our standard of living possible. They would prefer that we embrace socialist schemes to redistribute wealth, and to take down those who are “too rich.”

Former world chess champion and human rights advocate Garry Kasparov addressed that point when he spoke at the Goldwater Institute’s annual freedom gala in 2018: “Talking about socialism in America is a luxury paid for by the successes of capitalism.” Having suffered under Soviet socialism, he admonished: “If you want to tell me about the glories of socialism, go say it from a food line in Venezuela, not from Hollywood, not from Vermont. If you want to tell me that Putin is a strong leader, try it from a jail cell in Moscow, not from New York, not from Washington, D.C.”

Our freedom affords us the luxury to glamorize socialism because we’ve never had to suffer its dehumanizing consequences. Thus, it’s become fashionable to preach class warfare, oppressive taxation, classroom indoctrination, speech suppression, and government control over nearly every aspect of people’s lives. It’s safe to do so, because even the staunchest advocates of government control cannot fathom that they would ever fall victim to the authoritarian policies they wish on others.

So this Independence Day, celebrate as you wish: whether that’s re-reading the Declaration of Independence or just relaxing poolside with your family. The ability to not just survive, but to thrive—to enjoy our lives in any of the countless simple occupations of enjoyment—is exactly what America’s soldiers and statesmen fought to secure. But we must never allow the comforts of freedom to morph into complacency, lest we risk losing this American way of life.

We must never take freedom for granted. Instead, let’s ensure that we preserve America’s promise to all her citizens: the liberty to pursue one’s own version of the American Dream.

Christina Sandefur is the Executive Vice President at the Goldwater Institute.

This op-ed was first published by the Washington Examiner.



More on this issue

Donate Now

Help all Americans live freer, happier lives. Join the Goldwater Institute as we defend and strengthen freedom in all 50 states.

Donate Now

Since 1988, the Goldwater Institute has been in the liberty business — defending and promoting freedom, and achieving more than 400 victories in all 50 states. Donate today to help support our mission.

We Protect Your Rights

Our attorneys defend individual rights and protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Need Help? Submit a case.

Get Connected to Goldwater

Sign up for the latest news, event updates, and more.