From the United States Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776:
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.
It often seems to be the case in the American political discourse that we find that our founding fathers and their debate over government can have relevance to the problems we face. From energy policy to stem cell research, we seem to be able to find a way to bring Jefferson and Madison into almost any debate.
Yet, however ironic we might find it in America and however some in Europe might find it, in the current moment it is actually time for Europeans to look back at American history for relevant historical precedent. For the people of Europe who remain ‘Eurosceptics’, the 18th century American experience at unification is a good reference point to reflect on the purpose of government and the existence of a time to dissolve one’s old ‘political bands’ for new.
At this point in history every single member state of the EU has proven their independent ability to hold free and fair elections for leadership. They are each sovereign nations with different cultures and histories but they share, just as the American colonies did, much more in common than not.
As the economic crisis continues in Europe, it is important to remember that whenever “the form of government becomes destructive” of the purpose of securing for the people the rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, it is the right of any people to begin a new government organized in a way that “to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.
In Europe in 2012, as in America in 1776, the “Right of the People to alter or to abolish” their government “and to institute new Government” is of primary importance to the future of democracy. The establishment of a democratic federal government and a functioning union of states are badly needed in Europe.
The wealth created after the foundation of the United States (albeit in fits and starts) is a testament to what the countries of Europe could gain from an effective central government working on their behalf. Today, with the language of the Declaration of Independence adopted by democratic people across the world, it is time for Europe to embrace their democratic calling. A democratic government can be formed of the Europeans, by the Europeans and for the Europeans – and the world would be a much better place as a result.