Who Determines Your Happiness?

In their sagacity, our founders recognized the God-given right to define and pursue one’s own happiness. As the Declaration of Independence avers:

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.

Indeed, if one cannot define and pursue his or her happiness, there can be no liberty. And without liberty, what is life but a penal sentence beneath the boot of a tyrannical regime?

Further, the founders differentiated the pursuit of happiness from its attainment, something that is impossible for any government to guarantee. Throughout our nation’s revolutionary experiment in self-government, generations of Americans have realized that a government powerful enough to provide your happiness will also be powerful enough to define what will make you happy—with or without your consent. This is likely to make one very unhappy, indeed. As former President Gerald R. Ford succinctly expressed the danger: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”  

The Left, however, traditionally has conflated the pursuit with the attainment of happiness; and attempted to seduce citizens with the siren song of a Leviathan government able to provide the means to one’s happiness. Of course, this promise can never be fulfilled, which has compelled the Left to try and “fundamentally transform” Americans’ expectations both of what constitutes happiness and how it must be pursued. In the process, the Left fundamentally rejects the foundational principles of sovereign citizens engaged in self-governing, and their consenting to the acts of a subservient government.

How is the Left today endeavoring to unilaterally redefine “happiness” and compel citizens’ pursuit of it? 

Cancel culture. 

Redefining words, directing deeds, dictating punishments, arbitrarily and capriciously censoring and canceling its opponents through the weaponization of government, corporate powers, media, and academic powers, the goal of cancel culture is to force the fundamental transformation of America by bullying citizens into pursuing the Left’s definition of happiness: namely, a society where the Left’s ideology reigns sans dissent. 

Politically, the Left’s goal is patent: the accumulation of power over Americans to dictate its radical agenda. Yet, on a more personal level, the Left’s behavior has nothing to do with happiness and everything to do with animus.

In his book Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits: The Crime Spree That Gripped Belle Epoch Paris, John Merriman quotes the anarchist poet, Camille Mauclair:

Anarchists dreamed of abolishing the state, and thus the privileges so cherished by the wealthy. It wasn’t so much that we wanted the miserable to be happy . . . as that we wanted the happy to be miserable . . . the label [‘anarchist’] covered all the grounds of our discontent . . . I hated indiscriminately deputies, policemen, judges, officers, all the supporters of the social order, as much as I hated philistines, and I believed mystically in catastrophic revolution and red dawn.

There is a rare, crystalline moment of honesty from the Left. The Left’s radical ideology is not about making you happy. It is not even about making them happy. It is about making you as miserable as they are. And, because most people are quite pleased to pursue their happiness in the land of the free, the surest way for the Left to make Americans as unhappy as those on the Left are is to erode freedoms and place the cancel culture minefield along your pursuit of happiness. 

And if the Left feels so miserable living in America it isn’t because their laughable sense of moral superiority compels “outrage” at society’s inequities. It is more than possible for one to try to change the things he can while still preserving what is best in our country. But what the Left wants is not progress; it is power—the power to compel perfection among imperfect human beings. No wonder they are miserable. Still, in our pluralistic society, one must respect the right of the Left to perversely pursue misery.

The problem is, as the truism warns, misery loves company; and the Left will never be happy (or at least sated) until they have foisted upon Americans an equality of misery.

Nonetheless, the Declaration of Independence also provides a remedy for those who seek to define and direct their own pursuit of happiness, safeguarding their liberty, livelihoods, and lives from the governmental Leviathan:

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.

Thus, we citizens possess the power to secure our rights by peaceably assembling and pacifically abolishing or altering our servant government every election.

Thanks, yet again, to the genius of the founders.

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

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