My wife and I finished watching HBO’s series on John Adams last night. It’s a remarkable film about a remarkable man. It renewed my sense of wonder at America’s founding.
My only criticism is that it’s too journalistic; for instance, I didn’t need to see Adams sick in bed for quite so long, nor did I need to hear the buzzing sounds of flies for every outdoor scene. But I do generally appreciate the richness of detail and authenticity of the piece.
One thing that struck me about the film is that it shows Adams as president walking around the streets, accompanied only by a friend. Today that would be impossible. Today’s president has so much power, and is perceived by the public as such a godlike figure, that the president is no longer truly a man of the people.
I gritted my teeth as Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Even these heroes had their flaws. But then Jefferson undid this error of Adams, and the two men eventually renewed their friendship.
This morning my wife and I voted. I did not vote for any candidate for president. None of the candidates deserves my vote, and none deserves to hold the same position as Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. Down ballot I voted for the lesser of evils, for candidates who for the most part care little for the liberty and rights for which the revolutionaries fought.
And yet I feel this is a celebratory day. Despite the economic problems, and the prospect that the government might further worsen the economy and erode our rights in the coming years, I feel a sense of hope.
For these words still live:
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…