For many years I have struggled with the language of America’s founding document. As a conservative, I have found it hard to justify revolution against one of the freest and best-governed countries on earth, and I have found it especially hard to buy the justification in the Declaration.
I am familiar with the colonists’ growing sense of identity and consciousness of nationhood, and with their endless complaints against the King and Parliament. But these grievances were minor (prior to the revolt), and nothing like the complaints of the preceding century when the British government really was a disaster.
The colonists could have simply said “we want to be our own country”. The world would have understood if not sympathized. But instead, the colonists cooked up an entirely new philosophy of government that was supposed to justify their actions. They wanted to be more moral than the British, to be the good guys.
I can understand the desire for moral justification (found in all revolutions, no matter how gruesome). But their arguments were specious, hypocritical and subversive of their true political goals. They invented universal rights that they had no intention of ever granting to most of their inhabitants or to any foreigners. They invoked abstract authorities (God and Nature) who had no ability to express differing views.