On this Independence Day, I wonder, if only it were possible for the second president of the United States, John Adams, to magically find himself walking among us today, how, if at all, might he change some of his most famous quotes. Here are a couple to ponder:
"Power must never be trusted without a check." Now, in light of the Supreme Court's ruling on Citizens United, John Adams might instead write: "Power must never be trusted with a check."
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." Given former senator and presidential candidate, John McCain's assertion that America is "a Christian nation," President Adams might choose to edit his statement so that it would read: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."
If Adams were to insist on inclusion of the word "religion" now in the above quote, seeing how America was founded by men looking to escape religious tyranny, he would doubtless also insist on adding the word "diverse" before "religious people."
Finally, here's one quote that Adams might indeed leave unchanged, and something to think about on this American's 236th birthday:
"Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present Generation to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it."
We are still fighting for freedom, but over the past hundred years or so, it has been for somebody else's freedom. Nowadays, we must fight against the tyranny of corporations, banks, boardrooms, and country club elitism, the kind that would turn the Oval Office into the Polo Lounge.
We must also remember that we are the "posterity" to which John Adams alludes, and make good use of that concept of freedom, one that affirms separation of church and state. We must fight, too, to uphold diversity of all kinds as this was what prompted the founding fathers, at some peril, to establish the America we celebrate today.
For, in the end, what good is a country that fights for everyone's freedom but its own.