Congressman Yarmuth opened our annual reading of the Declaration of Independence with these remarks. You can watch a video of it here
“246 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was revealed to the world. It was perhaps the quintessential expression of the human desire for self-determination in the history of civilization. It launched an experiment that has been a model for people everywhere who want to decide for themselves what kind of society they prefer to live in.
For most of those 2 ½ centuries, the courage of Americans to create a form of government that guaranteed personal liberty has been celebrated on this day. But today there is no cause for celebration. There is no reason to set off white, blue and red fireworks. There is a compelling need for recognizing the red flags that are flying all around us.
There has never been a graver threat to our way of life than right now. As my former colleague David Obey said to me a few years ago, “ Democracy doesn’t guarantee a happy ending.”
As we listen to the words of Jefferson, think of the oppressive regime in England that spawned the birth of the world’s most revered — until recently — democracy. Consider the fact that we have minority rule in Congress because of the U.S. Senate, that we have a Supreme Court determined to roll back human rights, and a former President and his would-be successors who do not respect the rule of law or the preferences of a majority of Americans. That could portend a very unhappy ending for American democracy.
So today I will use another speech, one given 87 years after the Declaration was made public by the Second Continental Congress, to contextualize the reading we do today.”
“With apologies and deference to Abraham Lincoln, I present the America 2022 Address.
Twelve score and six years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all persons are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a part of that war’s battlefield, which is both physical and digital. We have come together to remember every woman and man who has fought, marched, resisted, tweeted, and voted, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting, proper and necessary that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we cannot underestimate, we cannot ignore, we cannot minimize today’s threat to the democracy our predecessors have created. We must remember them and recognize that we most certainly have the power to add, or the potential to detract, from their efforts.
The world may little note nor long remember what we say here, but it will never forget what we do here. It is for us the living and the democrats (small d), to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that so many have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that we take increased devotion to the cause of American democracy. That we here highly resolve that we will not allow a minority of Americans to destroy the fabric of our democracy and subject a substantial majority of us to the same kind of despotic, theocratic, undemocratic form of government that our forefathers and mothers revolted against in 1776.
That this nation, whether under God or not, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”
-Congressman John Yarmuth, Congressional District 3, Kentucky