Gibbon also blamed Rome’s increasingly fragmented demographics for its fall. Fifty years ago, nine of ten Americans were of European descent. In around thirty years, they will constitute a minority. Gibbon pointed out that the Eastern and Western Roman empires split along linguistic lines, with Greek spoken in the East and Latin in the West. A similar trend is emerging in America today with English and Spanish.

Other historians note that Rome suffered from an increasingly devalued currency that led to financial collapse. The American dollar is currently worth only four percent of what it was 100 years ago. This year, Standard & Poor’s downgraded America’s long-term credit outlook from “stable” to “negative,” and the IMF predicted that China’s GDP will surpass America’s in a mere five years. We’ve rapidly plummeted from the world’s largest creditor to its biggest debtor. Despite Democratic myths to the contrary, the national debt has been gradually swelling for decades. As with Rome, our unproductive, dole-gobbling masses are temporarily kept fat and complacent with bread and circuses—but only temporarily. Fiat currency never lasts.

We’ve fallen from the top perch in education, wealth, infrastructure, and life expectancy. Every cultural icon and historical conquest that was once deemed a matter of pride is now designated as cause for shame and perpetual self-flogging. Uncle Sam has been recast as a creepy relative who molests you. But to protest any of these ongoing cultural inversions is to invite scorn, to be labeled paranoid and stuck in the past.

Never mind that the past seems far better than the present. My father didn’t graduate from high school but was able to pay off a mortgage and buy a new car every three years by toiling at dirty blue-collar jobs such as plumber and oil-rig foreman. I have a college degree (summa cum laude, thank you very much), have rented all my life, and have never owned a new car. Forgive me, if you can, for noticing that things have changed for the worse. I can only despise a government that risked my father’s neck in WWII and my brother’s in Vietnam yet insists I remain quiet while it downgrades the long-term prognosis for my son.

The upper left signature on the Declaration of Independence is that of Button Gwinnett, a representative from Georgia. Yesterday while driving in wilting heat through the Georgia county named after Gwinnett, my Georgia-born wife and I passed endless short brown herds of Mesoamericans and one Spanish-language sign after the next. “This feels like another country,” she said. I looked at her and nodded. We are choking to death on our own niceness.

Our second president and cosigner of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, wrote that “democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” It appears that American democracy has swallowed a bottleful of sleeping pills, and it’s only a matter of time before they kick in.

And so today, July 4, 2011, I declare my independence from the United States of America. For now my gesture is entirely symbolic, and unlike 1776, there appears to be no frontier to which I can flee, at least not on this planet. But if anyone can suggest a viable exit strategy, I’ll consider it more seriously than I do anything currently being spewed by our unforgivably traitorous government.

 



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