Glenn talks to John Lott

This morning on radio, Glenn spoke to author, economist and political commentator John Lott. His latest book, At the Brink, examines what the current administration is doing and what this government is doing to push us over the cliff. Lott will also be on The Glenn Beck Program tonight at 5pm ET on TheBlaze TV. Start a 14 day free trial to watch.

GLENN: John Lott is one of my favorite thinkers, especially when it comes to ‑‑ well, when it comes to facts and figures, you know, he's probably best known for his work on guns, guns by the numbers. I think his name is ‑‑ the name of his book is More Guns, Less Crime, and it is the ‑‑ it is the standard bearer, I think, for that kind of stat, and you won't read that anyplace else. Well, he has turned his attention now to what this administration is doing and what this government is doing to push us over the brink. That's the name of his new book called At The Brink. Will the man who won't be named on this program without a $20 fine, will "that guy" push us over the edge is the subtitle and John is with us now. Hi, John, how are you?

LOTT: Great to talk to you. Thank you very much for having me on.

GLENN: You bet. You're taking this on, and I wonder if we can ever come back from this because I look at the facts that you have in this. I just look at the things when you talk about the stimulus and how the stimulus is going to go down in history as the most expensive economic failure in all of history. You want to make that point first before I ask you the question on it?

LOTT: Well, I think there are some things that we can come back from and other things I don't think we're going to be able to completely. The economy's one thing. I think we're always going to be poorer than we otherwise would have been as a result of this policy. I mean, we've had the biggest increase in government spending and inflation‑adjusted terms that we've ever had in our nation's history, even bigger than the increase, even accounting for inflation, than we had during World War II.

GLENN: That's amazing.

LOTT: But the only thing that we've gotten out of that is a massive increase in debt, a debt that for a family of four now, publicly held debt is worth $200,000 per family. And we have incredibly slow growth. And those things aren't unrelated. I mean, the president keeps on saying that we can't cut spending at all, not even the growth rate, or we're going to somehow hurt the economy. And the exact opposite's true. You look around the world; those countries that have followed his policy, his Keynesian policy of increased spending and increased deficits ‑‑

GLENN: Lose.

LOTT: ‑‑ those are the countries that are hurting now those are the countries that have slow growth and bad employment growth.

GLENN: So where I want to go here are things like his stimulus and basically his policies is we're not going to be able to turn it around because in World War II we at the end had factories. We had hard goods that turned ‑‑ we could turn those things that we were building for planes and ships and everything else, we could turn those around and we had an engine to now start to build the best cars in the world and the best refrigerators in the world where at the end of this one we got nothing.

LOTT: Well, we got government and we have a lot of production that wouldn't exist without subsidies. You have all these green jobs that are out there and there's a reason why they don't exist without these subsidies. If you took away the subsidies, they would disappear because their costs are much greater than the benefits. They make us poorer. When you have a gallon of ethanol that cost more than twice a gallon of gasoline and produces less energy, it's almost as if you're just throwing away, you know, $100 a barrel that you, you know, that's just gone. You might as well just burn it up.

GLENN: So you ‑‑

LOTT: We're poorer by that amount.

GLENN: You talk about healthcare as another big problem, and I am stunned at the number of people who are just beginning to figure ‑‑ people I think are really smart are just beginning to figure out, "Wow, there's a real problem here." How long before the effects of universal healthcare really kick in and so everybody knows it?

LOTT: Well, some effects have kicked in. Over the last year, over the last 12 months the cost of health insurance premiums have gone up by 14.3%. Hardly the type of price control that the president was promising with his packages. But the real damaging stuff's going to go into effect this coming January. I mean, there's a reason why the president had the presidential election before the main bulk of these healthcare regulations went in effect. People I think are going to be shocked not just by, there's going to be additional big increases in the prices of health insurance but I think within a relatively short few years, the health insurance markets just for private insurance is going to disintegrate.

GLENN: Okay.

LOTT: And the reason why that's the case is that you have two conflicting rules. We are supposed to ‑‑ he's supposed to try to make everybody get insurance with these fines or penalties but at the same time he's said that there's no regulations that insurance companies can have on preexisting conditions. The problem is that the fines and penalties are small relative to the cost of getting insurance. The cost of insurance for a family of four will be about ‑‑ is about $14,000. It's going to go up probably to about $17,000 or $18,000 over the next few years under Obama's plan. And you'll be paying a few thousand dollars in penalties.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: It will make ‑‑ what will happen is it will be like running car insurance where you can wait until you get into a car accident and then buy insurance.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: There's going to be good people out there who are going to feel bad gaming the system and they will wait. But at some point even they are going to feel like suckers because as more and more people wait until they get sick before they buy insurance, you know, they'll pay the few thousand‑dollar fine that they have to pay there rather than have to pay, you know, the 15, 16, $17,000 that they have to pay for their family, insurance premiums are going to soar.

GLENN: Well ‑‑

LOTT: Because you can imagine how high car insurance would be if everybody waited until they had an accident before they bought it.

GLENN: Right. It would be the price of the car or the damage.

LOTT: Exactly.

GLENN: And that defeats the whole problem ‑‑ or the solution.

The other side of that is companies. And we're seeing companies already doing this. Companies are cutting hours. They're cutting their lower, you know, paid people they have to find that money for their healthcare some place. So they have to cut that. They are cutting hours back. So part‑time people are going to be even worse off than they were before. And a lot of companies are just saying, "I'll pay the damn fine. I don't care. I'm not going to provide it." And it forces people into, into the government which is supposed to be, his words, the provider of last resort. But he's made it so it will be the provider of first resort.

LOTT: Exactly. Look, when the ‑‑ when Obama, the Obama administration and the Congressional Budget Office were figuring out the impact and the cost of ObamaCare, they essentially assumed that people wouldn't be changing their behavior. But you and I know ‑‑

GLENN: They will.

LOTT: ‑‑ that when you go and make something more costly, people do less of it.

GLENN: Here's the thing, John. I don't believe for a second they didn't know that they wouldn't change their behavior. This is a guy who won the last election and not a lot of people reported on this, but he had behavior psychologists.

LOTT: Right.

GLENN: ‑‑ on his campaign. He's a guy who has Cass Sunstein as part of his administration. They know "nudge." They know exactly how human behavior is going to work.

LOTT: Right.

GLENN: It stops me from believing that these are honest mistakes. Lot lotto, I don't ‑‑

GLENN: Do you believe ‑‑

LOTT: Yeah, I don't believe they're honest mistakes. I believe, all I'm saying, when they would tell the public what it would cost ‑‑

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: When the official estimates went out on the cost, those cost estimates assumed people's behavior wouldn't change. I know they know that, we know it changes, and what I'm saying is that these cost estimates are going to be radically off. When people ‑‑ people are going to go under the government system, which is going to be much more expensive and, you know, we taxpayers are going to be having to pick up the bill.

GLENN: Okay. So ‑‑

LOTT: But this is part of a process. So I think part of a conscious design to basically destroy private insurance in this country. They didn't want to publicly go out for single‑payer government plan, but this is something that will lead to it fairly quickly I think.

GLENN: Yeah.

LOTT: Because ‑‑

GLENN: Of course it will.

LOTT: ‑‑ as the cost of private insurance soars and as people move onto the government plan, they'll effectively get there.

GLENN: Okay. So John, the congress isn't going to do anything, the president is just executive order after executive order, and the book At The Brink is not about healthcare alone. It's about the whole thing. What does the average person do? How can we possibly stop this?

LOTT: Well, there's some things that I don't think we can stop at this point, the destruction of the pharmaceutical industry, for example, the huge elimination of research jobs and the lack of future drugs that we're not going to get that would have saved lives not only in the United States but around the world. There's not too much we can do about that right now. And I don't think we can do too much in the near term about ObamaCare. He's there as president for four years.

On the economy there are some things we can do. We can try to make sure that things like the sequester goes into effect. I mean, it's just absolutely surreal to me ‑‑

GLENN: Wait, wait, wait, wait.

LOTT: To put off asking about the government spending and the lack of growth. Obama threatens that this $85 billion cut this year in government spending out of the $3.8 trillion budget is somehow going to send us off the rails. I mean, look around places, it's the places that have been spending the money that are off the rails. And to somehow believe that this kind of cut ‑‑ and this is after we just had $60 billion extra spent on Hurricane Sandy that somehow an $85 billion cut is going to be vast this year. And, you know, people need to keep Republicans' feet to the fire, not just on the sequester but on the debt limit bill that comes up.

The president constantly makes wrong, inaccurate claims about things like we'll go into default if the debt limit doesn't increase. It's simply false. I mean, any economist knows that as long as you can keep on paying the interest, you're not in default. And we have much more than enough money to pay the interest. Obviously almost 40 cents of every dollar that's spent by the government's being borrowed right now.

But look, if we were to just live within the revenue that we get, the government's still going to function. It's not going to do everything that everybody's going to want it to do, but it shouldn't be doing that anyway. And so, you know, the president can make the cuts as painful as he wants, but the thing the Republicans should point out then is, look, you could have spent the money on this. Instead you decide to make things bad and spend it on some pet green project that you wanted to have the money keep on going to.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: That's your fault that you're doing it. And if I were Republicans there, I'd say, look, you've got to cut spending. We've just had this huge increase in spending.

When Obama ran in 2008, his big promise, if you go back to the presidential debates, was to cut the size of government. He kept on saying over and over again the net size of government had to get smaller. A week after the election he starts talking about this stimulus and then it was supposed to be temporary, a year or two. We're five years into the Obama administration now and not only can't we keep any of those earlier promises but we somehow can't even slightly slow the growth of government.

GLENN: Right.

LOTT: That somehow even now slightly slowing the growth of government would lead to financial disaster and, in fact, the exact opposite's true.

GLENN: All right. John, thank you so much. The name of the book is At The Brink and it's available everywhere by John Lott, a really truly brilliant guy. He's also going to be ‑‑ he's helping us on another book that we're coming out. We're crashing a book here and we've gone to the best experts, and I wanted to put together a, almost a guide for the Second Amendment and the truth about guns, and I'm calling the name of the book is Control because it is really all about control. Exposing the truth about guns. And John is helping us with some of the facts on that, and I so appreciate that. That's coming ‑‑ when is that coming out? Do you know, like ‑‑

STU: April, late April.

GLENN: Due I think this week. So late April is when it's coming out. Control. And he, John, will also be on with us tonight with the sheriffs because we have the, probably the most controversial sheriffs in all of Washington, but they are from all across the country and they are probably the most popular sheriffs because they are the ones who are saying, "I am folding. I will stand and protect and defend your right to have a gun," and they're not going to come in and search your house and they are not going to come in and take your gun. The sheriffs tonight, your last line of defense on ‑‑ at 5:00 on TheBlaze TV. Make sure you join us for that. John, thanks a lot. We'll see you later tonight.

By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, where British naval ships occupied New York Harbor. Revolutionary spirit and tension were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the Declaration aloud in front of City Hall. The crowd cheered wildly, and later that day tore down a statue of King George III. They melted down the statue to make 42,000 musket balls for the ragtag American army.

America's separation from Great Britain was officially in writing. Now came the hard part.

The Declaration of Independence defines who we are, what we believe, and what we aspire to be. It is a mission statement. But no one said it would be easy to implement.

The Declaration was not simply an official announcement of our split from Great Britain. If it was just that, it could've been a lot shorter. It was also an announcement that we're starting a new company, and here's what we're basing it on. It didn't just declare independence — it declared principles. It declared how we were going to organize ourselves once we were out on our own, and it set up guardrails to help ensure we didn't end up like the country we were leaving in the first place.

The Founders set us up for success, but America is now fumbling it away, largely thanks to our dangerous drift from the original blueprints.

In our national discourse, it's hard to find agreement even on fundamentals like the Declaration of Independence anymore. There's no time for old-fashioned things like the Declaration when social media can fuel our outrage around the clock.

We have lost touch with our national DNA.

How often do we jump to outrage before we have any kind of perspective on a matter? In 2017, President Trump had only been in office for one month before over 100 activists rewrote a version of the Declaration of Independence, rewording it with Trump in the King George III role. Trump had been in office for a single month. The focus has shifted from unity to partisan winning at all costs. We have lost touch with our national DNA.

Our basic knowledge of the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is so weak that we don't have a clue how they relate to each other. As of late 2017, 37 percent of Americans could not name any of our First Amendment rights. And 33 percent of Americans could not name any branch of our government.

Here's another example of our painful misunderstanding. In a Psychology Today article written before the 2016 presidential election, Dr. Mark Goulston was trying to figure out a way to understand Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is what he came up with:

Trump represents the Declaration of Independence. Clinton represents the U.S. Constitution.

He tries to explain that Trump supporters are eager to declare their independence from the political swamp system. For the Constitution side of things, he wrote:

It [the Constitution] may have stood the test of time for so long because it was drafted following a long, costly and awful war that the founding fathers wanted to prevent from happening again. That intention possibly enabled them to create a document that was relatively free from special interests and personal agendas. [Hillary] Clinton is more like the Constitution than the Declaration of Independence and appears to be more about getting things done than declaratively taking a stand.

Besides being a completely bogus way to interpret Hillary Clinton, this comparison makes your brain hurt because it so fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution. They are not rival documents.

He says the Constitution has stood the test of time because the founders wrote it to prevent another long, costly war. What? No. It stands the test of time because it was designed to protect the “unalienable rights" of the Declaration.

He goes on to say that we need a new Constitutional Convention because, “We may just need to retrofit it to fit modern times."

This is the primarily leftist idea that America is up against today — that the founding documents worked well for their time, but that they now need an overhaul. Progressives seem to live by the motto, if it ain't broke, fix it anyway. Rather than “fixing" things, however, when we understand the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights as they already are, we discover that they still work because they're tied to universal principles, not a specific point in time.

Here's one way to think about the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The Declaration is our thesis, or mission statement. The Constitution is the blueprint to implement that mission statement. And the Bill of Rights is our insurance policy.

Aside from the practical business of separating from Great Britain, the gist of the Declaration is that humans have natural rights granted us by God, and that those rights cannot be compromised by man. The Constitution, then, is the practical working out of how do we design a government that best protects our natural rights?

The creation of the Constitution did not give us rights. The existence of our rights created the Constitution. The Constitution just recognizes and codifies those rights, clarifying that the government does not have authority to deprive us of those rights.

The Founders were extremely paranoid about corruption and abuse of power. They designed a system to avoid as much of that as possible.

The Progressive and postmodern idea that rich white guys founded America as an exclusive country club for enriching themselves doesn't hold water. If that had been their true intent, they seriously handicapped themselves with the emphasis on rights and the checks on power that they included in these three documents. Any honest reading of the Constitution, and of the massive ratification debates that dragged on in individual state legislatures, makes one thing very clear — the Founders were extremely paranoid about corruption and abuse of power. They designed a system to avoid as much of that as possible.

Still, this Declaration-Constitution-Bill of Rights-trifecta thing is just a conservative line, right? It's just something we say because we're stuck in the past and we're in denial about the new and improved, diverse, post-gender, postmodern America, right?

As the Declaration puts it, “let facts be submitted to a candid world."

In 1839, on the 50th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as the nation's first president, the New York Historical Society invited former president John Quincy Adams to deliver a speech. As the son of John Adams, John Quincy wrote a speech about something near and dear to his — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He said:

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, are parts of one consistent whole, founded upon one and the same theory of government… it had been working itself into the mind of man for many ages… but had never before been adopted by a great nation in practice…

Even in our own country, there are still philosophers who deny the principles asserted in the Declaration, as self-evident truths — who deny the natural equality and inalienable rights of man — who deny that the people are the only legitimate source of power – who deny that all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed… I speak to matters of fact. There is the Declaration of Independence, and there is the Constitution of the United States — let them speak for themselves.

They can, and they do. They don't require any interpretation or updates because our inalienable rights have not changed.

Progressives and Democratic Socialists believe our rights come from the government, but the Declaration emphasizes that our rights are inalienable and are granted to mankind by God. By the way, we usually only use the word “inalienable" now when we're talking about the Declaration of Independence, so we often don't even understand the word. It means something that is not transferable, something incapable of being taken away or denied.

We don't know our founding documents anymore and we're witnessing the disastrous results of this deficiency. We've lost sight of what made the American Revolution so unique. It was the first time subjects who had colonized new lands, rebelled against the country they came from. Government by the people and for the people is a principle that changed the world. Most countries fall apart after their revolutions. We thrived because of the firm principles of the Declaration, and the protection of those principles in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It's a unique system with a remarkable track record, in spite of our human frailty. But this system is not inevitable — for it to continue to work, we must understand and protect it.

From the moment the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson arrived at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, he was on the radical side. That caused John Adams to like him immediately. Then the Congress stuck Jefferson and Adams together on the five-man committee to write a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain, and their mutual admiration society began.

Jefferson thought Adams should write the Declaration. But Adams protested, saying, “It can't come from me because I'm obnoxious and disliked." Adams reasoned that Jefferson was not obnoxious or disliked, therefore he should write it. Plus, he flattered Jefferson, by telling him he was a great writer. It was a master class in passing the buck.

So, over the next 17 days, Jefferson holed up in his room, applying his lawyer skills to the ideas of the Enlightenment. He borrowed freely from existing documents like the Virginia Declaration of Rights. He later wrote that “he was not striving for originality of principle or sentiment." Instead, he hoped his words served as “an expression of the American mind."

It's safe to say he achieved his goal.

The five-man committee changed about 25 percent of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration before submitting it to Congress. Then, Congress altered about one-fifth of that draft. But most of the final Declaration's words are Jefferson's, including the most famous passage — the Preamble — which Congress left intact. The result is nothing less than America's mission statement, the words that ultimately bind the nation together. And words that we desperately need to rediscover because of our boiling partisan rage.

The Declaration is brilliant in structure and purpose. It was designed for multiple audiences: the King of Great Britain, the colonists, and the world. And it was designed for multiple purposes: rallying the troops, gaining foreign allies, and announcing the creation of a new country.

The Declaration is structured in five sections: the Introduction, Preamble, the Body composed of two parts, and the Conclusion. It's basically the most genius breakup letter ever written.

In the Introduction, step 1 is the notificationI think we need to break up. And to be fair, I feel I owe you an explanation...

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

The Continental Congress felt they were entitled by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to “dissolve the political bands," but they needed to prove the legitimacy of their cause. They were defying the world's most powerful nation and needed to motivate foreign allies to join the effort. So, they set their struggle within the entire “Course of human events." They're saying, this is no petty political spat — this is a major event in world history.

Step 2 is declaring what you believe in, your standardsHere's what I'm looking for in a healthy relationship...

This is the most famous part of the Declaration; the part school children recite — the Preamble:

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's as much as many Americans know of the Declaration. But the Preamble is the DNA of our nation, and it really needs to be taken as a whole:

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.

The Preamble takes us through a logical progression: All men are created equal; God gives all humans certain inherent rights that cannot be denied; these include the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to protect those rights, we have governments set up; but when a government fails to protect our inherent rights, people have the right to change or replace it.

Government is only there to protect the rights of mankind. They don't have any power unless we give it to them. That was an extraordinarily radical concept then and we're drifting away from it now.

The Preamble is the justification for revolution. But note how they don't mention Great Britain yet. And again, note how they frame it within a universal context. These are fundamental principles, not just squabbling between neighbors. These are the principles that make the Declaration just as relevant today. It's not just a dusty parchment that applied in 1776.

Step 3 is laying out your caseHere's why things didn't work out between us. It's not me, it's you...

This is Part 1 of the Body of the Declaration. It's the section where Jefferson gets to flex his lawyer muscles by listing 27 grievances against the British crown. This is the specific proof of their right to rebellion:

He has obstructed the administration of justice...

For imposing taxes on us without our consent...

For suspending our own legislatures...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

Again, Congress presented these “causes which impel them to separation" in universal terms to appeal to an international audience. It's like they were saying, by joining our fight you'll be joining mankind's overall fight against tyranny.

Step 4 is demonstrating the actions you took I really tried to make this relationship work, and here's how...

This is Part 2 of the Body. It explains how the colonists attempted to plead their case directly to the British people, only to have the door slammed in their face:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice... We must, therefore... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

This basically wrapped up America's argument for independence — we haven't been treated justly, we tried to talk to you about it, but since you refuse to listen and things are only getting worse, we're done here.

Step 5 is stating your intent — So, I think it's best if we go our separate ways. And my decision is final...

This is the powerful Conclusion. If people know any part of the Declaration besides the Preamble, this is it:

...that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved...

They left no room for doubt. The relationship was over, and America was going to reboot, on its own, with all the rights of an independent nation.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The message was clear — this was no pitchfork mob. These were serious men who had carefully thought through the issues before taking action. They were putting everything on the line for this cause.

The Declaration of Independence is a landmark in the history of democracy because it was the first formal statement of a people announcing their right to choose their own government. That seems so obvious to us now, but in 1776 it was radical and unprecedented.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of… but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm… to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."

You're not going to do better than the Declaration of Independence. Sure, it worked as a means of breaking away from Great Britain, but its genius is that its principles of equality, inherent rights, and self-government work for all time — as long as we actually know and pursue those principles.

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. The “Lee Resolution" was short and sweet:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Intense debate followed, and the Congress voted 7 to 5 (with New York abstaining) to postpone a vote on Lee's Resolution. They called a recess for three weeks. In the meantime, the delegates felt they needed to explain what they were doing in writing. So, before the recess, they appointed a five-man committee to come up with a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain. They appointed two men from New England — Roger Sherman and John Adams; two from the middle colonies — Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin; and one Southerner — Thomas Jefferson. The responsibility for writing what would become the Declaration of Independence fell to Jefferson.

In the rotunda of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., there are three original documents on permanent display: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These are the three pillars of the United States, yet America barely seems to know them anymore. We need to get reacquainted — quickly.

In a letter to his friend John Adams in 1816, Jefferson wrote: “I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past."

America used to be a forward-looking nation of dreamers. We still are in spots, but the national attitude that we hear broadcast loudest across media is not looking toward the future with optimism and hope. In late 2017, a national poll found 59% of Americans think we are currently at the “lowest point in our nation's history that they can remember."

America spends far too much time looking to the past for blame and excuse. And let's be honest, even the Right is often more concerned with “owning the left" than helping point anyone toward the practical principles of the Declaration of Independence. America has clearly lost touch with who we are as a nation. We have a national identity crisis.

The Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

It is urgent that we get reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence because postmodernism would have us believe that we've evolved beyond the America of our founding documents, and thus they're irrelevant to the present and the future. But the Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

Today, much of the nation is so addicted to partisan indignation that "day-to-day" indignation isn't enough to feed the addiction. So, we're reaching into America's past to help us get our fix. In 2016, Democrats in the Louisiana state legislature tabled a bill that would have required fourth through sixth graders to recite the opening lines of the Declaration. They didn't table it because they thought it would be too difficult or too patriotic. They tabled it because the requirement would include the phrase “all men are created equal" and the progressives in the Louisiana legislature didn't want the children to have to recite a lie. Representative Barbara Norton said, “One thing that I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the fourth, African Americans were slaves. And for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us. To ask our children to recite something that's not the truth. And for you to ask those children to repeat the Declaration stating that all men's are free. I think that's unfair."

Remarkable — an elected representative saying it wouldn't be fair for students to have to recite the Declaration because “all men are not created equal." Another Louisiana Democrat explained that the government born out of the Declaration “was used against races of people." I guess they missed that part in school where they might have learned that the same government later made slavery illegal and amended the Constitution to guarantee all men equal protection under the law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were an admission of guilt by the nation regarding slavery, and an effort to right the wrongs.

Yet, the progressive logic goes something like this: many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote it, owned slaves; slavery is evil; therefore, the Declaration of Independence is not valid because it was created by evil slave owners.

It's a sad reality that the left has a very hard time appreciating the universal merits of the Declaration of Independence because they're so hung up on the long-dead issue of slavery. And just to be clear — because people love to take things out of context — of course slavery was horrible. Yes, it is a total stain on our history. But defending the Declaration of Independence is not an effort to excuse any aspect of slavery.

Okay then, people might say, how could the Founders approve the phrase “All men are created equal," when many of them owned slaves? How did they miss that?

They didn't miss it. In fact, Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery passage in his first draft of the Declaration. The paragraph blasted King George for condoning slavery and preventing the American Colonies from passing legislation to ban slavery:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights to life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere... Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

We don't say “execrable" that much anymore. It means, utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent — basically very bad.

Jefferson was upset when Georgia and North Carolina threw up the biggest resistance to that paragraph. Ultimately, those two states twisted Congress' arm to delete the paragraph.

Still, how could a man calling the slave trade “execrable" be a slaveowner himself? No doubt about it, Jefferson was a flawed human being. He even had slaves from his estate in Virginia attending him while he was in Philadelphia, in the very apartment where he was writing the Declaration.

Many of the Southern Founders deeply believed in the principles of the Declaration yet couldn't bring themselves to upend the basis of their livelihood. By 1806, Virginia law made it more difficult for slave owners to free their slaves, especially if the owner had significant debts as Jefferson did.

At the same time, the Founders were not idiots. They understood the ramifications of signing on to the principles described so eloquently in the Declaration. They understood that logically, slavery would eventually have to be abolished in America because it was unjust, and the words they were committing to paper said as much. Remember, John Adams was on the committee of five that worked on the Declaration and he later said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Also, the same generation that signed the Declaration started the process of abolition by banning the importation of slaves in 1807. Jefferson was President at the time and he urged Congress to pass the law.

America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough.

The Declaration took a major step toward crippling the institution of slavery. It made the argument for the first time about the fundamental rights of all humans which completely undermined slavery. Planting the seeds to end slavery is not nearly commendable enough for leftist critics, but you can't discount the fact that the seeds were planted. It's like they started an expiration clock for slavery by approving the Declaration. Everything that happened almost a century later to end slavery, and then a century after that with the Civil Rights movement, flowed from the principles voiced in the Declaration.

Ironically for a movement that calls itself progressive, it is obsessed with retrying and judging the past over and over. Progressives consider this a better use of time than actually putting past abuses in the rearview and striving not to be defined by ancestral failures.

It can be very constructive to look to the past, but not when it's used to flog each other in the present. Examining history is useful in providing a road map for the future. And America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough. But it's right there, the original, under glass. The ink is fading, but the words won't die — as long as we continue to discuss them.

'Good Morning Texas' gives exclusive preview of Mercury One museum

Screen shot from Good Morning Texas

Mercury One is holding a special exhibition over the 4th of July weekend, using hundreds of artifacts, documents and augmented reality experiences to showcase the history of slavery — including slavery today — and a path forward. Good Morning Texas reporter Paige McCoy Smith went through the exhibit for an exclusive preview with Mercury One's chief operating officer Michael Little on Tuesday.

Watch the video below to see the full preview.

Click here to purchase tickets to the museum (running from July 4 - 7).