Hello Everyone,

Rick Santorum suspended his campaign and, recently, Ron Paul did, too. Therefore, Mitt Romney has won the Republican nomination.

Of course, this result has been apparent for months. Last November, in #60, I wrote:

Jon Stewart, my primary news source, beat me to it. Last week, he declared Mitt Romney the Republican nominee. I was about to do the same in this space. So, I’m happy to endorse Stewart’s declaration.

So, over the last six months, I’ve been following Gov. Romney with some interest. In fact, as a University of Chicago trustee, I was a member of the contingent that welcomed him when he spoke there last month. (Pictorial evidence of that is available at the end of this commentary that is now posted on my Obamagram website: www.obamagrams.com)

In following Gov. Romney, I have noticed, as I’m sure many of you have, that one of his most visible campaign slogans is the single word “Freedom.” That’s the word that frequently appears on his podia. It was also the centerpiece of Ron Paul’s campaign.

While freedom is an obvious foundational American value, I think it always needs to be balanced by the similarly fundamental American values of “equality” and “collective responsibility.”

Last month, I attended a talk that my friend Danielle Allen gave in a neighborhood proximate to UChicago, where she was formerly Dean of the Division of the Humanities – she’s now at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her talk was sponsored by the Civic Knowledge Project, which she founded a few years ago as a branch of the Humanities Division. Its mission is to develop and strengthen community connections on Chicago’s South Side.

Danielle’s talk was about her careful reading of the Declaration of Independence – the subject of her next book.

While we’ll have to wait for the book for her cogent and complete argument, on this occasion she handed out copies of the Declaration – only four letter-sized pages – and led us through her analysis of it. For those who haven’t memorized the Declaration and want to follow along, I’ve attached a copy.

You may be as surprised, as I was, to remember that it only contains five substantive paragraphs, a total of about one page. The rest of it is a list of “injuries and usurpations” the colonies endured at the hands of the king and the names of its 56 signatories.

Obviously, the Declaration is a cry for freedom. But, to Danielle’s eyes as a political scientist and to mine as a layman, it is also a communitarian treatise, grounded in shared aspirations, mutual responsibilities and claims of equality.

Look at some of its key words and phrases.

In the first paragraph, we find “one people” and “equal station.”

In the second paragraph, there is the famous assertion that “all men are created equal,” having “unalienable rights,” as well as “to secure these rights, Governments are constituted.”

Following the list of grievances, the last three paragraphs repeatedly use the collective “We.” It concludes with the most communitarian of all vows – “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Not exactly a partisan or selfish thought.

In the fervor of a presidential campaign, it will serve us well to remember that from the beginning, our forefathers understood the preciousness of freedom, but also knew that it must be balanced with the pursuit of equality and a commitment to collective responsibility.

Please, as always, pass it on. And, remember that previous Obamagrams are stored on www.obamagrams.com


adobe pdf fileDeclaration of Independence





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