Was the American Revolution a Mistake?

In a culture increasingly divided between ideological opposites, America’s most pressing question has fast become apparent: how can conservatives and progressives share a country together?

Can we disagree about everything America should be and still preserve our individual and collective freedom?

Conservatives say, “Sure, just keep their hands off my wallet, and we’re good.”
Progressives say, “Sure. Just eliminate their freedom. Problem solved.”

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Gone is the era of the open-minded liberal who, though defining freedom differently than conservatives, staunchly defended the concept of liberty. This is the day of the progressive– who, without qualm or hesitation, simply hates freedom. Especially your freedom, America.

We know this, because they say so.

While modern patriots “celebrated” the most ironic Independence Day since 1781, progressive columnist Dylan Matthews (enroute to the UK for the weekend) published his own anti-Declaration at Vox.com, called “3 Reasons the American Revolution Was a Mistake.” He states:

“American independence in 1776 was a monumental mistake. We should be mourning the fact that we left the United Kingdom, not cheering it.”

To make his case, Matthews takes his blog into “counterfactual” territory; the realm of imagination and conjecture (where many progressives seem feel most comfortable). He claims three points support the inherent fault of American independence:

  1. America would have abolished slavery earlier as a British colony.
  2. Native Americans would have been better treated by the British Empire.
  3. America would have had a better form of government under British rule.

Several paragraphs of selective historical analysis later, he concludes that American independence has done far more harm than good (and presumably we should repent and beg the Queen to take us back).

While the piece is far more revealing in its assumptions than its facts, let’s review what Matthews leaves out.

The first point is what he considers his strongest case.

“Honestly, I think earlier abolition alone is enough to make the case against the revolution, and it combined with less-horrible treatment of American Indians is more than enough.”

Ah, Pathos: the one-legged stool of modern argument.

Matthews claims that, were America forever a British colony, we would have outlawed slavery in 1834, not fought the Civil War, and had fewer years of oppressing our fellow man to atone for now. Therefore:

“Decades less slavery is a massive humanitarian gain that almost certainly dominates whatever gains came to the colonists from independence.”

He neglects one embarrassingly obvious fact:

1) Slavery in America was Britain’s fault.

The slave trade came to the American continent by the will of British traders and with the blessing of the British government.

Just read how Thomas Jefferson described King George’s support for the slave trade as one of their causes FOR independence from his rule:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.

Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

Many of the 13 colonies hated slavery; immediately after declaring independence, five states would either end it outright (Massachusetts and New Hampshire) or pass gradual abolition acts (Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Connecticut).

True, several Southern states would use their independence to continue and protect the crimes of slavery. They suffered greatly in years of bloody war, and still suffer the judgment of the culture, for that reason.

But the conclusion that no American should have independence because some Americans have used their freedom for evil is a mirror to the progressive worldview.

The same anti-America bias is revealed in Matthews’ presumption that England would have been a more generous master over the Native Americans than the independent government.After decades of convincing the culture that the source of all evils is Western Imperialism, a progressive is now claiming that such an empire was now the preferable choice, when faced with a greater evil: American Independence.

The third claim, “America would have a better system of government if we’d stuck with Britain,” is the most reasonably debatable, but Matthews makes severe logical flaws. He classifies current British rule as “parliamentary democracy rather than a presidential one (American),” and that being under a weak monarch like Elizabeth II is better than an elected president, “precisely because (monarchs) lack any semblance of legitimacy.”

He ignores the vital fact that America does have a system that places far more power in the hands of their Congress than their President (if the current iteration would only use that power), and falsely compares the current figurehead of a monarch with open tyranny of an unchecked George III.

Simply put, Mr. Matthews is trapped in the limitations of his progressive worldview:

  1. Rights are not inherent, but bestowed by human government
  2. Good is determined by the “collective”; individuals are subject to the majority.
  3. Representing the “collective,” the state knows best.
  4. The goal of society is equality

Therefore, he rejects the American view:

  1. Rights come from God, not government
  2. Rights are individual, not determined by “majority”
  3. The People rule the state; We institute government to defend our rights, not determine them.
  4. The goal of society is liberty

Yes, our ancestors sometimes abused their freedom. But does that mean modern America does not deserve freedom? Of course not.

Only with a commitment to freedom can we condemn ourselves when we violate it for others. America’s moral Declaration of the inalienable (individual) right to life and liberty forms the very basis upon which to abolish slavery and all other crimes against humanity.

Progressives hate inequality. But tyranny mandates inequality. The American solution was to free people of government constraint so they could independently maximize their God-given potential. This freedom results in unequal outcomes, as a natural consequence: it is only through inequality that anyone can achieve excellence.

This is why progressives must hate freedom–because a free nation proves that their view of utopia is impossible. They believe that equality is the only goal: that’s the “greater good’ for which they must to undo America, and silence those who value independence (because some are more equal than others).

There is no way to eliminate inequality in the real world, which is why the progressive left must resort to imagining their own world history to prop up their worldview. And it is through this delusion, that progressives cling to such a grand contradiction: that submitting to the tyranny of the state will make a better people. Because everyone will be equal…when they’re bowing down to the king.

Rebekah Maxwell

Rebekah Maxwell is a columnist, activist, and broadcaster, whose homeschooled education gives her a unique perspective on the issues that face the next generation. Rebekah is the executive producer for the nationally-syndicated Steve Deace Show, and columnist at SteveDeace.com. Her journalistic work has been honored by the Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the National Association of Broadcasters.

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