July 4, 2020
By Victor Riches
Independence Day is traditionally a day of celebration—cookouts and fireworks, parades and picnics, fun and relaxation with family and friends. But in a time of coronavirus, many Americans won’t be able to gather for their traditional plans. And that’s why this year, Independence Day is an especially important day to remember how precious and fragile our freedom is.
Freedom isn’t a given. It’s a living, breathing thing—a garden that needs tending and attention. And at the Goldwater Institute, we’re working diligently to bolster our freedoms, even in the midst of these challenging times. Over the past year, we’ve scored major victories across America to protect freedom:
- Arizona and several additional states have passed our Breaking Down Barriers to Work law, which ensures Americans can continue in their careers when they move across state lines without having to jump through endless bureaucratic hoops. To date, more than 1,100 Arizonans have been helped by Goldwater’s law, and that number will continue to grow.
- In Jersey City, New Jersey, we successfully challenged the collective bargaining agreement between the Jersey City School District and Jersey City Education Association—an agreement that paid the salaries of two full-time teachers who did not spend their days educating children, but rather performing full-time work for their union. The New Jersey Court of Appeals agreed, siding with taxpayers in Goldwater’s lawsuit, ruling that the school district cannot use taxpayer funds to pay the salaries of these teachers union representatives.
- In a huge win for Miami Beach homeowners, a Florida trial court struck down the city’s ban on home-sharing. Miami Beach had been home to the highest fines in the country—up to $100,000 for a single offense, which could easily bankrupt most property owners. The court agreed with the Goldwater Institute: Miami Beach’s home-sharing fines were excessive and violated state law.
The Declaration of Independence—adopted on July 4, 1776—declares that Americans have been endowed with the rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This is the quintessence of the American idea—that we inherently possess the freedoms to pursue our lives as we see fit. It’s easy to take these freedoms for granted when times are good, but when we face challenges, we must remember that freedom is not a guarantee that we’re entitled to in perpetuity. Maintaining freedom is not easy — it takes vigilance and work.
Perhaps most importantly, it requires our protection. While the opponents of liberty are out in full force, it is now more important than ever to safeguard and nourish freedom — and to remind all Americans that it is, in fact, the very essence of our country.
This Independence Day, the celebration of our freedom may look different from the way it usually does. This year there may not be as many barbeques and fireworks. But on this July 4, we should rejoice in the idea that freedom is alive and that America remains the greatest accomplishment in the history of humankind. That’s exactly what we’re celebrating and will continue to pursue at the Goldwater Institute.
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July.
Victor Riches is President and CEO of the Goldwater Institute.