The birth pangs of Tennessee and the United States were virtually simultaneous. In 1775, working for the Transylvania Company, Daniel Boone and a group of 30 axmen hacked out a trail called the Wilderness Road across the Cumberland Gap, opening up the western land for settlement. So when the United States was formally created on July 4, 1776, the path had been blazed for approximately 300,000 settlers to enter the new territory over the next 30 years.
Many of the early settlers came to Tennessee seeking freedom. They fought for independence from King George III, who was called a despot by some of the founding fathers and mad by others.
Tennessee earned the nickname “Volunteer State” after hundreds of Tennessee militiamen helped turn the tide of the Revolutionary War at the 1780 Battle of King’s Mountain. After the war, more than 2,200 veterans elected to settle in Tennessee, which became the first federal territory to be admitted to the Union, in 1796. During the Civil War, Tennessee once again lived up to its nickname, furnishing more soldiers for the Confederate army than any other state, and more soldiers for the Union army than any other Southern state.
Today most Tennesseans claim to be free as they celebrate Independence Day, but I have my reservations. Did we escape the clutches of mad King George, only to bow down to other irrational tyrants, such as:
King Romney the Elect. All indications are that if Mitt Romney is elected president, he will do everything in his child-of-privilege power to favor the 1 percent over the 99 percent, leaving millions of elderly, poor and disadvantaged Americans with hastily shredded safety nets.
King Pain. It also seems likely that Republicans in their current lost-marble madness will try to junk the Affordable Care Act without bothering to provide real-world solutions. To these self-professed Christians, helping the sick, elderly and poor is “socialism,” even though that’s exactly what Jesus Christ spent most of his time doing, asking nothing in return.
King War. If Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. could end up fighting its third major war in a decade. But we are already drowning in debt, much of it due to unfunded war spending. Even if the new war goes well, which seems unlikely, our country might go bankrupt before it’s over.
King Oil. Depending on oil for energy makes war more likely, because the lowest-cost oil is in the Middle East. But even if we can purchase enough oil peacefully at reasonable prices, the real cost remains far too high because polar ice caps and glaciers are melting at a rapid pace. Rising sea levels appear to be indisputable proof that the overall temperature of the earth is increasing. But American politicians — especially Republicans — seem to be impervious to scientific facts and reason.
King Ignorance. We the people have no one to blame but ourselves. We willingly believe lies, such as the one about 9/11 being the result of Muslims hating our lifestyles and values, when in reality the terrorists who were captured clearly said that the attacks were due to the injustices of Israel and the U.S. in the Middle East. Thus, we seem doomed to fight unnecessary, unwinnable wars, rather than simply ending the injustices that cause other people to attack us.
King Kong. The biggest brute on the block is our gargantuan government, which consumes a large percentage of everything we make, wastes mega-billions, and still manages to run up humongous debts. And this King Kong obviously believes that bigger is better, as it constantly sucks up to Big Oil, Big Banks, Big Business, and anyone else with Big Bucks. Republicans who claim they want “smaller government” cannot be believed, because their warmongering puts more power in our bloated federal government’s hands. There is only one true conservative left in the GOP: Ron Paul, a lone voice crying in the wilderness that wars and excessive military spending are bankrupting our nation.
How long can Americans afford to serve so many insane masters? How can we end this Independence Day madness? I believe the path back to sanity is to vote the Republican lackeys of the super-rich out of office, then put pressure on Democrats to end the wars and force the government to start living within the American taxpayers’ means.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.