July 4, 2009

Independence Day in the Dark

By: Paul Miller
Washington Examiner - OpEd Contributor

There is something in the air this Fourth of July weekend, but it isn't barbeque, fireworks or freedom - its secrecy.

As we celebrate the birth of our country and pay our respects to the Founding Fathers and Revolutionary War heroes who made sacrifices very few Americans can comprehend, we must never forget why, over two hundred and forty years ago, it was the words "no taxation without representation" that echoed from chambers and churches in Boston.

Back then the colonists were demanding what today "we the people," take for granted - a voice. Men such as Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Adams risked their lives so that Americans - could have that voice.

And having means much more than the right to free speech; it means the right to be involved in the political process and review legislation, as well as voice an opinion before a vote is called.

Stop ramming it through before the people can review.

Americans must channel the wisdom of our Founding Fathers and demand "no taxation without information." The same politicians who claimed the Bush administration was not upfront and honest with the American people regarding the War on Terror have passed a near trillion-dollar spending bill. They managed to do this with complete disregard for transparency as well as outlining the most controversial energy legislation in American history without any allowance for public input or adequate time for elected representatives to read the twelve-hundred- page bill.

Earlier this year hundreds of thousands of Americans embraced the spirit of Samuel Adams by attending one of the over eight hundred tea party rallies held throughout America, voicing their outrage at Washington's unprecedented intervention and blatant disdain for openness and accountability.

There is no doubt that the same desire for freedom and representation our forefathers fought for during the American Revolution still burns in the hearts and minds of millions. These patriots don't consider themselves Democrats or Republicans, but Americans, who believe that open and honest government that welcomes people into the political process, not shuns them out, is what makes America "that shining city upon a hill."

Unfortunately, the current administration is determined to turn out the "beacon light [that] guides freedom-loving people everywhere." On this Fourth of July weekend, let's remember why it's crucial to leave the light on - at any cost.

Paul Miller serves as communications director for the Sam Adams Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit that utilizes new media to promote government accountability and transparency.

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