Last weekend was the Fourth of July — a holiday used by Americans to celebrate our independence — it marks the day we declared for liberty in the face of a remote and unresponsive tyranny. In this document we find some of the most powerful words ever written:

“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…”

Certainly this event was a high point in our escape from the theocratic tyrannies that had evolved in Western civilizations — and that journey out from under the boot-heels of tyrants is marked by any number of such milestones, many of which are not immediately visible as they pass. The events of 1776 are certainly a part of a long trail that is often thought to have begun in earnest with the struggles over the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. Often overlooked, the Magna Carta was described as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.” [Lord Denning, 1965]

Like most symbols of freedom, celebrating that journey and using the Declaration of Independence as the most recent step leaves out significant blocks of people. Part of the answer is that in it’s day, many groups were not at the table. Others were only there to serve food and clean up. But on the 19th of June, another celebration takes place — the Juneteenth celebration commemorates the end of chattel slavery (people as property) in the U.S. Celebrated in many states of the Union as Freedom Day or Jubilee Day, it is a celebration of freedom that is very complementary to the more well known Fourth of July— and it represents yet another step down the long path to freedom.

Although Juneteenth celebrates the new freedoms, fought for at great expense, we have not fully delivered on its promise. As a conservative, but also as a former member of the military, I have often wondered why we fought and won the first American Civil War (1860-1865), yet allowed the losing side to continue its oppression of the former slaves, with that oppression spreading to other states in part because we did not pay close attention. When I see or hear of statues to the former leaders of the rebellion, I ask why we celebrate their lives when many of those lives were dedicated to fighting a losing rebellion that sought to preserve the practice of slavery.

Now we are headed down a dark path toward another form of slavery, national debt, a form captured by conservatives with phrases like, “Debt is slavery.” I am reminded that the struggle for liberty renews every single day, and I see many opportunities for partnership between the activists for freedom who hail from the two major political camps. Many of the current struggles over institutional racism are part of a bigger fight that good Minnesota conservatives should want to be, and could be, a part of. The fight against tyrannies is fought in skirmishes every year in our ballot boxes. If conservatives were at the tables in these struggles we might avoid some of the worst of the outcomes {span}⁠—{/span} but too often the combination of language and style shuts them out of the conversation. Labels like “racist” and “socialist” serve neither side well, but are far too common in their conversations. And once these labels start being the starting point of any discussion is it any wonder that each side feels silenced?

We lost a champion for the individual this weekend. Bridgewater Supervisor Gary Ebling was killed in a farm accident this past weekend. May we be worthy of his efforts.

Bruce Morlan is a Bridgewater Township resident who tends his real turf with nothing but water, sun, some maths, and an occasional mowing to keep the weeds down.

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