Glenn Beck: MSNBC blurs the lines


Ed Gillespie

GLENN: Well, Ed Gillespie decided to write NBC.  I have a copy of the letter but I would rather just have Ed just explain the meaning of the letter, why you wrote the letter, what your concerns were.  Hi, Ed, how are you?

GILLESPIE:  I'm fine, Glenn, thanks for giving me a chance to have your listeners hear about this.

GLENN:  Sure.  NBC, first of all -- well, let's start at the beginning.  Tell me about the letter.  What was your problem at the White House?

GILLESPIE:  Well, what NBC did was we granted them an interview over in Egypt to talk about, you know, the peace process and Iran and other subjects and they raised this bogus notion that the President, in asserting U.S. policy in his speech to the Knesset which he said that our policy is to stand by Israel as a friend in the Middle East, our policy is to not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, our policy that we don't negotiate with terrorists like Hamas and Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda and the Obama campaign said that was an attack on Barack Obama, which it was absolutely not.  It was a statement of U.S. policy.  Those are the President's policies.  They have been for a long time.  And so when Angle asked the question, Angle, the reporter for NBC, asked the President that question, the President said, well, no, you got that -- you know, you got that wrong; read the speech.  And he said, you know -- he started by saying, my policies haven't changed, maybe the political calendar has, but read the speech; you got that wrong.  And then went on to talk about Iran.

Well, NBC news cut, selectively edited out the part where he said, "Read the speech," you didn't get that exactly right is actually how the President put it.  And in the edit they cut to a shot of Angle himself and then back to the President with the, you know, with the line about the, you know, what I actually said was about Iran, talking to Iran.  And they made it look like he was affirming the premise of the question when, in fact, he had rejected explicitly the premise of the question and they masked the edit.

GLENN:  Okay.  Let me read exact -- word for word, Jim Angle said, you said negotiating with Iran is pointless and then do we have the audio?  Give me the edited, please.  Here's the edited first.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

VOICE:  Negotiating with Iran is pointless.  And then you went further.  You said that it was appeasement.  Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama?

PRESIDENT BUSH:  You know, my policies haven't changed but evidently the political calendar has.  And when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously.

VOICE:  A lot of Iran's empowerment --

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GLENN:  Okay.  Now, listen to what he actually said.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

VOICE:  You said that negotiating with Iran is pointless and then you went further.  You said that it was appeasement.  Were you referring to Senator Barack Obama?  He certainly thought you were.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  You know, my policies haven't changed but evidently the political calendar has.  People need to read the peach.  You didn't get it exactly right, either.  What I said was, is that we need to take the words of people seriously and when, you know, a leader of Iran says that they want to destroy Israel, you've got to take those words seriously.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

GLENN:  Why would they do this?

GILLESPIE:  Why would they do?  I think it's because they want to affirm the notion that anytime the President states a policy -- and they will start with this one, that, you know, it's our policy, like I said, to stand by Israel and not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, don't negotiate with terrorists, that's a policy apparently that someone disagrees with.  The media will treat it and the Obama campaign will treat its an attack on an individual when it is absolutely not.  When the President says raising taxes will harm the American economy, that's not an attack on anyone, it's not an attack on Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid or others who disagree with that point of view.  When the President says that we should be able to drill in an environmentally sensitive way in ANWR in the northern slope of Alaska to meet the demands for oil in this country domestically rather than relying on foreign sources of oil, those who disagree with that, that's not an attack on them.  And the notion that you can say, you know, that the, any campaign or the media can say that the President asserting his policies of this administration somehow translate into an attack on someone is a premise we're just not going to accept.

GLENN:  So he said it was fitting that I talked about not taking the words of Adolf Hitler seriously with you also talk about the need to defend Israel, et cetera, et cetera, and not to negotiate with the likes of Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas.  When Barack Obama responded to this, he said it was an outrage that the only person's policies that had made the world more dangerous was George Bush.  So wasn't Barack Obama, in fact, without taking him out of context, doing exactly what he was blaming on the President and saying the President shouldn't do?

GILLESPIE:  Well, and, of course, it's been awfully hard for Senator Clinton to get much attention in the midst of all this.  But look, they are free to campaign to do what they need to do to get the nomination, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama.  And that's fine, but the fact is the President of the United States is the President of the United States through January 20 of 2009 and he is going to make the case for U.S. policy.  And we're going to do that.  And people are free to disagree with it, but it's not an attack and it shouldn't be portrayed as such.

GLENN:  You also went in with something else on NBC and you asked them about their coverage of calling Iraq a civil war.  Can you explain this part?

CALLER:  Well, you may remember back in November of 2006, there was this very public hand wringing and, "Oh, we've looked at this very carefully and, you know, we know that the U.S. Government and the Iraqi government disagree with this, but we are declaring today that Iraq is in a sectarian civil war and that our troops are in the midst of a civil war there.  Well, Glenn, as you well know, the unity government there in Iraq is a government of moderate Shia and moderate Sunni.  They have been routing out extremist Sunni and extremist Shia in that country, ethnosectarian violence is down.  In November of 2006, NBC made this very public announcement that this was their determination.  And then in around September of 2007 after the effect of the surge had kicked in and the Iraqi government started making progress and passing laws, they quietly dropped it.  And my question to them was a simple one:  Have you declared an end to the civil war and you just haven't said so?  Is the civil war over in Iraq in your view?  We never thought there was one?  Or were you wrong in declaring it in the first place?  Just a little clarity, please.  Can you publicly tell us about your deliberations and where that decision stands.

And then secondly -- or thirdly, I should say, when the last quarter GDP numbers came out and showed that we had growth of 6/10ths of a percent in the first quarter, they said if you believe the government numbers, you know, we're just -- you know, they came out and, you know, officially declared that we're just short of a recession.  Well, that's not what the Department of Commerce said.  And are there other numbers that we should believe?  Is there a reason we shouldn't believe the Government numbers?  I would like them to clarify that.  There a reason that the government numbers shouldn't be believed.  So look, you know, I've had a concern with NBC news for some time.  I've expressed it privately to them.  My concern is that, you know, the likes of commentators and quotes when really they're advocates.

GLENN:  No, they're journalists.  They're not commentators.  They're journalists.

GILLESPIE:  On MSNBC.  Like Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann who are, you know, left wing attack, you know, part of a left wing view of the world, which is fine.  You know, they're labeled as commentators in that arena.  But I worry that the commingling that you see and the blurring of the lines between NBC broadcast division and the NBC commentary division is constantly blurred and you now see the news anchors and others sitting down with Olbermann and Matthews on election nights talking to them like, you know, they are Edward R. Murrow.

GLENN:  Yeah.  You know, it's very interesting because I do not call myself a journalist.  Keith Olbermann will.  I don't call myself a journalist.  I'm not a journalist, even though the San Francisco Chronicle called me one and we had an argument about it.  But I'm not a journalist, nor would I anchor the coverage on CNN for the election and do it in a serious sort of way.

GILLESPIE:  Right.

GLENN:  Wouldn't do it.  I'll give you commentary about the election.

GILLESPIE:  Sure, absolutely.

GLENN:  But I'll let you know it's commentary.  They have intentionally blurred the lines over there.

GILLESPIE:  They have and I don't think it's in their interest.  I don't think it's in the public's interest and I don't think it's in their interest.

GLENN:  Here's the thing.  I don't know if you've been following what Bill O'Reilly has been saying about how GE is profiting by selling things over to Iran.  You also have GE, the largest, with the largest lobbying group on Capitol Hill being green week.  They are burying agendas like crazy.  It is not a possible if you come out and say, look, GE makes a ton of money and, in fact, we have the biggest lobbying group down in Capitol Hill and we believe in green energy; by the way, we own NBC and so we're pulling these together.  That's fine, but nobody's ever disclosing this stuff.  And it's really dangerous.

GILLESPIE:  Well, like I say, Glenn, I think the concern of this blurring of the lines between the commentary side and the news side is a legitimate one.  I don't think it's in their interest and I hope they will respond by the way, their response to the concern about the mass editing that your listeners just heard and if you see it, you see they mask the edit.  They hide it so you would think that the President didn't have those three sentences in between.  The fact is they say the response was, well, if people want to see that, they can go on the MSNBC.com website and download it.

GLENN:  You know what, we edit for time on television, we edit but you put a white flash between the edit so you know there's an edit there.

GILLESPIE:  Yeah.  And you don't entirely alter the meaning of the response.  They edited it in a way to make it seem like he was saying, yeah, good point.

GLENN:  Let me ask you this question because it bothered me with Barack Obama, it bothered me with Hillary Clinton that the extreme left has taken on Fox News and they won't even play ball with Fox News.  They are trying to blackball Fox News and put them out of business by choking off any information from the left side of the aisle.  Thus cutting themselves off from half of the population.  I mean, there are Democrats and Republicans that watch Fox News just like there is on CNN.  The demographics may be skewed and the psychology of the people may be skewed a little bit differently or the political landscape is different, but there's still a great number of people that go over there and I believe that Fox tries to be somewhat fair and balanced.  While their journalists clearly or their commentators are clearly conservative, nobody in Washington is trying to -- or the Democrats are trying to blackball Fox by not going on any debates, et cetera, et cetera.  You don't see Republicans doing that to NBC, do you?

GILLESPIE:  No, and sometimes I question why.  It is beyond me frankly.  As you know I'm a former chairman of the Republican national committee and this is my own view.  I don't know in they would hold debates sponsored by Chris Matthews, but they do.  So they have not taken that step in the way of the --

GLENN:  I mean, if you can't -- you're saying, I want to be able to sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but I can't sit down with Chris Matthews, you shouldn't be the President of the United States.  You know what I mean?

GILLESPIE:  Glenn, I don't want to be pulled into the, you know, into the campaign debate.

GLENN:  No, no.

GILLESPIE:  We have our plate pretty full dealing with congress and working through policies and happily not in the political arena right now but I think your point is a fair one.

GLENN:  Yeah.  I don't want to -- I'm not trying to get you to comment on that.  What I'm saying is please don't let the Republicans go down the same road that apparently the Democrats are doing and that is you don't -- you just don't say I'm not talking to this group of people over here.

GILLESPIE:  Well, look.  I think that's a fair point.  Your point is that, you know, the news side of Fox, which I do think is -- let me tell you, you know, I've been -- have had my fair share of interviews from the Fox News people and they are tough as nails.

GLENN:  Yeah.

GILLESPIE:  I mean, you prepare with an interview for Fox News in the same way you prepare for one with CNN or NBC or any of the others.

GLENN:  Right.

GILLESPIE:  Because they are out to make news and they are out to ask the hard questions.  Now, in terms of their commentators, you know, like you said, they are clearly identified as commentators and that's fair game.  But, you know, to me I don't -- I believe that Christopher Matthews and Keith Olbermann are commentators.  Actually they are advocates and I don't think you can kind of take your advocate hat off and say, okay, for the next hour I'm going to be a newsman and I'm going to be an objective journalist.  And then when that's over, you know, go and put your advocate hat Bock on and launch all this vitriol against the President and other Republicans.

GLENN:  You say you prepare for interviews with Fox.  You didn't prepare to this one, did you?

GILLESPIE:  I did, by the way.

GLENN:  We're out of time.  Ed, thanks a lot.

GILLESPIE:  Thanks, Glenn.

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).