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I hope you’re having a great 4th of July week, but between the celebratory fireworks on one hand and the anti-American political fireworks on the other, let’s take just a moment to reflect on what Independence Day really means and how it led to the freedoms and blessings that far too many Americans fail to appreciate these days.

Most historians (not New York Times writers, but real historians) mark the beginning of America as the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776. But in truth, there was still a long road to travel before America as we know it came to be. First, of course, there was the matter of fighting a bloody revolution against Great Britain, one where victory was an overwhelming longshot, and win or lose, the leaders risked their lives, honor and fortunes. Victory was followed by more heated battles over what kind of government we would have.

Our Forefathers finally agreed to a blueprint, the Constitution, that wasn’t even introduced until 1789 – over 13 years later. Today, many Americans take those hard-won freedoms very lightly and seem eager to trade them away for false promises of security. Many can’t even name the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Maybe they’d cherish them more if they knew how close they came to not having them at all.

Did you know that the Constitution very nearly got passed without the Bill of Rights? Even some of the wisest of our forefathers thought a Bill of Rights was a dangerous idea. Alexander Hamilton argued that it was risky to list the rights the government couldn’t take away because then, politicians might try to grab any and every power that wasn’t specifically prohibited to them (apparently, the ability to rap wasn’t the only way Hamilton predicted the 21st century). He and many others also felt that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary: since nobody was surrendering their God-given rights by agreeing to the Constitution, there was no need to list them, right? Hamilton wrote, “Why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?”

It’s ironic that Hamilton made that argument. Later on, as the first Treasury Secretary, he cited powers that the Constitution merely implied that the government had in order to take on debt, create a federal bank and impose unpopular taxes. Over a century later, when the federal income tax was passed, some lawmakers wanted to include a 10% limit, but they were voted down. Opponents scoffed that it was absurd to think the government would ever steal as much as 10% of an American’s hard-earned wages. Flash forward just 30 years, and they were happily taxing away 94%. So just imagine how few freedoms we’d have today if they’d listened to Hamilton and decided it wasn’t necessary to put specific limits on government power.

Luckily for us all, Thomas Jefferson won the argument, and the Bill of Rights was added. They even included the 9th amendment, which I’ll bet most people can’t even describe. Here’s what it says:

“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

It means that just because some God-given rights aren’t specifically listed, that doesn’t mean the people cede them to the government. Maybe because so many of the framers were also farmers, they understood that like weeds, government tends to grow and grow, choking out the productive crops -- and like a bull, it will trample you if you don’t corral it. (Also, it produces the same thing a bull does.)

So if we want to preserve our freedoms, and keep government limited, maybe we should send more farmers to Washington -- and fewer lawyers.

I got a comment from a reader arguing that one reason young people fall prey to socialism (aside from being brainwashed by their teachers) is that they feel the capitalist system is failing them. They were told they had to get college degrees if they wanted good jobs, and encouraged to take out huge student loans. Now, they’re saddled with crippling debt, and those degrees aren’t opening the doors to jobs that pay enough to ever get out of the hole.

I admit that’s a serious problem, but electing people who will expand the very policies that raise taxes, kill jobs and wages, and make college ridiculously expensive and degrees useless (is anyone other than George Soros hiring people who studied how to overthrow the US government? is not going to help.

And promises to pay off everyone’s student loans are just a bait-and-switch. Your student loan debt might disappear, but your tax bill will double or triple. Will that solve your problem? And talk about redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich! People who never attended college will pay higher taxes to pay off the college loan debts of lawyers and others at higher income levels.

We need action on a number of fronts for young people to be able to access the American dream. First, we do need to restructure student loans, so that rates are lowered and terms easier to handle. Government policies need to be aimed at helping grow the economy and encourage private sector expansion, so that jobs are plentiful and wages keep rising. And future generations need to be taught to be more judicious in choosing majors, or that maybe college isn’t the only alternative. There are many good-paying jobs in skilled trades that employers desperately need to fill (just ask Mike Rowe.) There’s dignity in all work, and it’s a heck of a lot better to be a busy, well-paid plumber or mechanic than an angry, unemployed poli-sci or gender studies major (they obviously have way too much free time on their hands these days.)

Besides, as many of our recent political leaders have proven beyond a doubt, having an Ivy League degree is no guarantee of superior intelligence, ability or even basic competence. It might just mean that your parents bought the school a gym. Academic credentials are fine, but they don’t mean as much to me as native intelligence, a strong work ethic and an eagerness to learn.

Before I entered politics, I worked with a fellow named Gary Underwood to build a community TV station on a shoestring budget. Gary had no formal education in television production, but he figured out things, like how to make work lights from Sam’s Club do as studio lights, and how to run lights and a camera off a car battery so we could do remotes. If he’d had formal training, he might’ve told me it was impossible on our budget and given up. But since he wasn’t a "trained expert," he found ways to do the impossible. Later on, he ran media operations for the Arkansas Governor’s Office for me.

There are people with more education than others, and who certainly think they’re smarter than the rest of us. But you’d be hard pressed to find people with more “smarts” than someone like Gary. Have you ever heard it said that someone was “educated beyond their intelligence”? We’ve got plenty of people like that. Washington is crawling with so many Harvard and Yale alums that if they could all get a tuition refund, they could probably pay off the national debt. And frankly, many of them should demand a refund.

As both a Governor and a business owner, I’ve hired a lot of employees over the years. Some would figure out how to get something done, while others would spend more time explaining why it couldn’t be done than it would’ve taken to do it! Give me a smart person with a can-do attitude any day over one with an expensive education who lacks the resourcefulness to solve problems with whatever is available.

Remember the story of the eminent scientist who proved through incontrovertible laws of physics, gravity and aerodynamics that it was impossible for a bumblebee to fly? The bumblebee ignored all his arguments about how flying was impossible and flew anyway. The moral: If you want to succeed, be like a bumblebee and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t fly.

How can we all be so connected, and our government be so disconnected?

One of the benefits of living in the 21st century is that thanks to jet travel and the Internet, I constantly talk to Americans from every state and every walk of life. And believe me, they are not shy about sharing their opinions. It gives me a perspective that I wish more of our politicians and media people inside the Beltway Bubble could experience.

According to a recent Reuters Institute and University of Oxford survey, America ranked last among 46 nations in public trust in the news media. If I had to explain that subterranean approval rating in one word, it would be “disconnection.” I don’t think there’s ever been a time when the people in the media were so out of touch with the people they’re supposed to be serving (you’d think the shock they experienced on Election night 2016 would’ve caused them to reflect a bit and make some changes, but they only doubled down on the demonizing of people they never talk to.) They apparently really believed in 2016 that when voters asked for “change,” they wanted bigger deficits and a bloated, more powerful regulatory state. Trust me, based on what they told me, they did not. And they didn’t think they were getting that when they voted for Biden, either. They’re angry now because many believe they’re the victims of a bait-and-switch con.

If you ask most Americans what they want from government, it’s not to have every aspect of their lives regulated and “transformed,” including those that worked a lot better before the government “improved” them. They don’t want 2,000-page bills nobody’s read, or bureaucrats telling them which doctor they can see or how much money they’re allowed to make. The list of what most Americans say they want from government is actually pretty short: national defense, secure borders, safe streets; smooth highways; health care for veterans, seniors, children, the disabled (all those who genuinely can’t help themselves); good schools, firefighters and (yes) police – now more than ever - and it would be nice if the trash were picked up on time. That’s about it.

Yet somehow, the government finds so many ways to meddle in our lives that federal, state and local government spending combined now equals about 40 percent of America’s entire gross domestic product. And in some big cities, they don’t pick up the garbage at all. They just let people live in it.

In poll after poll, despite claims that socialism is on the rise, most Americans say they want less government and less spending. Even those who say they want government handouts like “Medicare For All” abruptly change their tunes when told what it will do to their tax bills and quality of services. They don’t give a hoot what the talking heads or the endlessly-surprised economists or the “too-big-to-fail” Wall Street failures say: they want government out of their lives, out of their wallets and out of their way.

Sadly, whenever political candidates support that philosophy, their opponents and the media paint them as cold-hearted and uncaring. Compassion has been redefined as the willingness to spend limitless amounts of other people’s money. The media also devote almost no time to examining political philosophies and a lot of time to gotcha games, gaffes, fake news and who’s ahead in the horse race.

But the horse is now out of the barn. For eight years, Americans experienced firsthand the results of so-called “progressive” policies. Government out of control, a health care boondoggle two-thirds of us didn’t want, and the economy still struggling long after it should’ve roared back.

The Election of 2016 was not a surprise to me. I predicted it months in advance because, unlike so many people who claim to represent or report on the American people, I actually talk to – and more importantly, listen to - people. Things were turning around quite well before a pandemic artificially shut down the economy and people let the media bamboozle them into blaming Trump and thinking they’d be bringing back moderation and “normality” if they elected Biden.

Now, they find themselves stuck with a combination of Obama and Jimmy Carter times 10. This isn’t what they voted for, but they’re getting it good and hard.

I predict that, despite the media’s best efforts to bamboozle us, politicians who try to sell Americans on socialistic, big government policies will eventually fail, for the same reason that a used car salesman has a hard time selling a lemon to the same customer twice. I think those politicians know it, too; hence their desperation to take over elections so they can control the results. I also predict that politicians who were elected on a promise not to “fundamentally transform” America will remain in office only as long as they remember that Americans did not elect them to turn the United States into Venezuela.

Some new polls bring a tsunami of bad news for Democrats. They show that even with the combined propaganda might of the government, the media and social media, you can’t pull the wool over the eyes of most Americans. You can bully some into not saying what they’re thinking, but you can’t keep them from thinking it. And eventually, they’ll get sick enough of being bullied and yell what they're thinking into your face.

First up, a new Trafalgar Group poll finds that 56.5% of Americans don’t believe that Joe Biden is fully executing the duties of his office. That even includes 31.7% of Democrats. Only 36.4% believe Biden is fully in control. These people are also known as “Americans who’ve never watched a Joe Biden press conference.”

https://redstate.com/brandon_morse/2021/07/06/poll-finds-most-americans-believe-others-are-controlling-biden-and-thats-bad-news-for-democrats-n407151

Related: No, despite what Biden told the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers Friday, he did NOT hit a 368-foot home run off the right centerfield wall of RFK Stadium in his second Congressional baseball game in 1974. He actually singled out twice, and it wasn’t even played in RFK Stadium. The White House had no comment, and neither did the media. You can imagine the howls of “Lying liar!!!” if Trump had said that, but with Joe, they just assume he confused himself with Mark McGwire and move on.

https://redstate.com/nick-arama/2021/07/05/biden-gets-busted-over-false-baseball-boast-n406918

On to the other polls: A Washington Post/ABC News poll (so I assume it’s heavily slanted left) still found that 51% of Americans disapprove of how Biden is handling the border, with only 33% thinking he’s doing a decent job.

https://redstate.com/jeffc/2021/07/05/another-left-leaning-poll-shows-how-americans-feel-about-bidens-handling-of-the-migrant-crisis-n406922

Democrats may be shocked by a new Pew Research poll that shows how many black Americans identify as conservative, moderate or Christian (80%...hardly a shock to me); how many Republican ideas like charter schools and voter ID that they support; and how strongly opposed they are to crazy leftist ideas like defunding the police.

https://redstate.com/redstate-guest-editorial/2021/07/04/the-mainstream-media-and-both-political-parties-lie-about-black-americas-views-n406426

A poll by Forbes/Tate Partners finds overwhelming disapproval by Americans of the Democrats’ “PRO Act” that would kill contract and gig jobs, eliminate right-to-work laws and force workers to pay union dues.

http://myprivateballot.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/PRO_Act-National-Survey-Summary-6.28.21.pdf

A new poll by Heritage Action finds that 64% of Americans oppose defunding the police (I’m surprised it’s not higher), and only 31% believe the handling of crime is better under Biden. I’m assuming those 31% are criminals.

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/reaganmccarthy/2021/07/05/poll-americans-reject-defunding-the-police-n2592043

Finally, and most encouraging for the 4th of July, an Issues & Insights/TIPP poll found that most Americans aren’t ashamed of this nation. In fact, they’re rightly proud to be Americans. 44% say they are “extremely proud,” 23% are “very proud,” 15% are “moderately proud,” 8% are “slightly proud,” and the big voting bloc that the Democrats are aiming for, those who are “not at all proud to be Americans,” comprise 6%.

Despite all the assaults on America as irredeemably racist, 55% of blacks and 57% of Hispanics say they are either “very” or “extremely” proud to be Americans. Only 7% and 9%, respectively, are not proud. They are also known as “CNN commentators.”

https://issuesinsights.com/2021/07/05/ii-tipp-poll-just-36-of-young-people-are-proud-to-be-american/

Surprisingly, despite the far-left bent of universities and the media's dissing of “low information” patriotic Americans, 75% of college graduates are proud to be Americans compared to 62% of those with only a high school diploma.

It’s worrying that the only group where a majority are not very or extremely proud to be Americans (36% total) are young people aged 18 to 24. I assume this reflects the corrosive miseducation they’ve received from leftist schools, media and social media. Here’s video proof of how woefully ignorant they are about America's history and how incredibly blessed they are to be here:

https://www.campusreform.org/article?id=15168

That problem urgently needs to be corrected by reforming schools and reining in social media. Let’s hope that the current badly-educated generation will come to their senses once they’re far enough away from the campuses and get enough experience with real life to have some sense knocked into them.

The nation’s largest teachers’ union, the misleadingly named National Education Association (“Education” should more accurately be replaced with “Indoctrination”) came out against parents who are trying to get racist Critical Race Theory out of schools.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/largest-teachers-union-critical-race-theory-reasonable-and-appropriate

The NEA voted that it is “reasonable and appropriate” to use CRT in social studies classes (interestingly contradicting other leftists, who claim it’s too “complex” for lower grades and deny it’s being pushed in K-12 schools at all.) They also approved a plan to "publicize" CRT and dedicate a "team of staffers" to assist union members looking to "fight back against anti-CRT rhetoric" (i.e., they want to research the backgrounds of critics of CRT to try to smear and dox them.)

The resolution also calls for the NEA to "join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project to call for a rally this year on Oct. 14 — George Floyd’s birthday — as a national day of action to teach lessons about structural racism and oppression." FYI: Howard Zinn was the self-described anarchist/socialist who wrote “A People’s History of the United States,” the first major anti-American “revisionist” (false and propagandistic) history book which has infected America’s schools for years.

The NEA also voted to back the “1619 Project,” the latest false anti-American account of US history. It’s so bad that even the World Socialist Web Site dismissed it as a load of careless, cherry-picked, racialist garbage that evinces “no familiarity with the massive body of work produced by generations of historians.”

https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/459872/

And this is what the largest teachers’ union in America endorses pouring into your kids’ noggins. That’s why many people say that sending your kids to a public school these days is a form of child abuse.

On the plus side, since this is the same union that’s fighting tooth and toenail to keep from reopening schools, maybe they’ll still be refusing to indoctrinate kids even by October. By then, you will have been able to find a good school for your kids, or be home-schooling them, or have replaced your school board or pressured local leaders to replace this racist, Marxist brainwashing with actual education.