So begins one of the most pivotal pronouncements in the advancement of human liberty. With those words, Thomas Jefferson threw down a gauntlet at the feet of not just the king of England, but also at Parliament and the entire entrenched elite who, up until then, had reserved power unto themselves by dint of their education, upbringing and wealth.
No more, Jefferson insisted. By declaring the truths of equality and of unalienable rights to be “self-evident,” Jefferson freed the common people from the yoke of oppression they had too long labored under — including the oppression of being told what to think by their “betters.”
This, in sum, is the genius of American democracy, that it was based on “Common Sense,” not just the pamphlet by Thomas Paine but the very concept itself. The American people had discovered that they were well enough equipped by their Creator to take on any task, meet any challenge, confront any oppressor. They could think for themselves. That was the key.Read More