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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

July 4th Toast To The Pursuit Of Happiness, The Forgotten Unalienable Right

Thomas Jefferson Memorial - An American
Founding Father, principal author of the Declaration
of Independence, & 3rd President of the USA.
by Ralph Benko, Contributing Author:  There is a thought nestled within the Declaration of Independence that has become a cliché: the pursuit of Happiness as an unalienable right. The pursuit of Happiness has nearly dropped out of our political discourse, much to our detriment. Politics has largely become an exercise in misery.

Reviving the pursuit of Happiness from banality is important. Might be the most important single thing we could do to make America great again!

Politics seems to have devolved, now, mostly into a fight over property rather than a spirited competition for the pursuit of happiness.  The Republicans fight for the Haves, the Democrats fight for the Have-Nots. Hardly anybody fights for those of us in, or aspiring to, the Middle.

This is a very great pity. It’s also a recipe for misery.

. . .  One cannot help but note that the Constitution -- specifically the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments -- substituted “property” after life and liberty as something of which we shall not be deprived without due process of law. This formulation more closely follows Locke, in his Second Treatise on Government (Chapter VII, section 87-89). And yet....

Jefferson, of course, was not present at the Constitutional Convention. In service as the American minister to France, we were denied his unique inspiration. Absent Jefferson -- the original crunchy-con -- Happiness failed leap from the Declaration into the Constitutiont (including the ensuing amendments).

. . . Beyond Adams’s delight with the Declaration’s high tone and flights of oratory, there is a little known counter-narrative that, if true, might help cast some light on the Jeffersonian privileging of Happiness over Property. Richard English, at the too-little-known whimsical website Modern Drunkard, teaches us:… Thomas Jefferson wrote the original draft of the Declaration of Independence over only a few hectic days. What is not generally known is that he did it while seated at his usual table in the Indian Queen Tavern in Philadelphia while downing glass after brimming glass of Madeira.

As America’s first (well, only, actually) scientist-president, Jefferson educated himself on all aspects of viniculture, including the cross-breeding of grapes and experimentation with all sorts of flavorful additives. He corresponded with wine makers in France and Germany, trading information and recipes. When Jefferson left the White House, he was stuck with an enormous $11,000 wine tab (about $200,000 is today’s dollars.)

His estate at Monticello housed both a winery and a brewery, and his wine cellar was second to none. Jefferson was fond of dinner parties and his guests knew that his table would be set with gourmet food and large quantities of delicious wine.
. . .  Fast forward, English reports that:Following the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, the 55 signers celebrated the birth of the fledgling nation with a full-bore blowout, putting away 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight bottles of whiskey, 22 bottles of port, eight bottles of hard cider, 12 beers and seven bowls of alcoholic punch large enough that, according one observer, “ducks could swim in them.”One can but wish that the later drafters of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments had followed Jefferson’s practice of imbibing liberally in the “draughting” process. We might then have had Happiness, in preference to (or at last in equal dignity with), Property enshrined in our Constitution. Perhaps it would have led us to a happier political place.

Spirits are a noble source of happiness but not the only one. In fact, research shows there is an even stronger source. Christine Carter, a Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, writing at GreaterGood, reported almost a decade ago in Happiness is being socially connected:The upshot of 50 years of happiness research is that the quantity and quality of a person's social connections—friendships, relationships with family members, closeness to neighbors, etc.—is so closely related to well-being and personal happiness the two can practically be equated.High time for us to focus our politicians' attention on the pursuit of Happiness.

All due respect for property! As Dorothy Parker once said, "I'd like to have money. And I'd like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that's too adorable, I'd rather have money."

That said, I propose that on this Independence Day we come together at the barbecue, left, right and center, and together hoist ample cups of Madeira to toast the forgotten Unalienable Right: the pursuit of Happiness.

Cheers!
-----------------
Ralph Benko is an advisor to nonprofit and advocacy organizations, is a member of the Conservative Action Project, a contributor to the contributor to the ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. The is an extract of an article which first appeared in Forbes.

Tags: Ralph Benko, July 4th, Toast, Pursuit Of Happiness, Forgotten Unalienable Right To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 3:33 PM - Post Link

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