This post was originally published on St. Louis American

By Janice Ellis

As we paused to celebrate the birth of our nation, it was a time to seriously reflect on the state of its health and well-being. The greatest problems we face, while troubling, are not rising inflation, high gas prices, nor rampant gun violence.

There is a deeper sickness growing in our land that threatens the very existence of our way of life.

A majority of Americans believe our very democracy is at risk of being dismantled and destroyed.

We stand at the precipice of whether we want to continue to improve upon this democratic republic that is unique to America. Or, whether we are willing to abandon or destroy the principles, laws and institutions on which it was founded and has thus far survived and thrived.

While it is an imperfect union, it is still a good union with so many invaluable and satisfying individual and collective rights and benefits.

However, slowly but surely, we have allowed the deadly germs of lies, partisan political agendas and the unquenchable thirst to hang on to personal power to take an unhealthy hold in our country.

These destructive, and potentially deadly, forces if not stopped could change what Independence Day celebrations will mean going forward.

We could be celebrating a very different America, or no United States of America at all.

Faith and belief in all aspects of our republic and its founding branches of government is eroding at a dangerous pace.

And with good reason.

Not only have the persistent fraudulent claims — from political leaders of the executive and legislative branches of our government — that the 2020 presidential election was stolen led to a violent seditious insurrection on the United States Capitol, but it has also created deep division among the American people that seems irreparable.

It does not stop there.

The judicial branch of our government appears to be forfeiting its role as independent arbiter on matters of the intent of the Constitution, and instead has become an extension of partisan politics, using its power to enshrine special interests’ agendas.

Where have the checks and balances, so critical to the survival of the republic, gone?

How do we arrest and clean up the detrimental blurred lines between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of our government?

It is not too late.

If you want to stop the destructive lies, stop the disrespect for the laws and institutions that have sustained this nation for nearly 250 years, then you must vote anyone out of office who advances and participates in behavior that try to destroy them.

While we might feel disgusted, tired of it all, fearful and powerless, we still can stop the destructive course we are on.

We elected the people whose actions or inactions have gotten us to this unhealthy state of where we find ourselves.

We can also un-elect them.

Traditionally, we have put more importance on the presidential elections. While the president is an important and symbolic representation of what the nation stands for, the office alone cannot preserve, protect, and advance the union.

It takes honest, committed and capable leaders at every branch of government putting the will and business of the people ahead of their own selfish interests, money, or the special interest groups that supported their campaigns.

The needs of the people who voted for them should be their priority.

But it is up to the people to demand that they do so, and then hold them accountable.

Given the state of our nation today, the outcomes of the upcoming mid-term elections loom large.

If you want to stop the destructive lies, stop the disrespect for the laws and institutions that have sustained this nation for nearly 250 years, then you must vote anyone out of office who advances and participates in behavior that try to destroy them.

Instead, vote for those candidates who will rebuild, unify, and keep America moving in the right direction. It is up to voting citizens to reclaim America, preserve and protect our way of life.

It is worth pondering the preamble to the Constitution: We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

And let us not forget the Pledge of Allegiance, the Declaration of Independence.

Their meaning looms larger than ever.

A new Gallop poll shows that patriotism is at an all-time low. How do we get our collective patriotic groove back?

We would do well to review and think on the great ideal and goals on which the country was founded.

We can continue to work at making it a more perfect union if we only choose to.

It is so easy to get caught up in the base, the negativity of selfish interests, which if unchecked inevitably leads to harm and destruction of what is decent and in the best interest of the common good.

Why proceed on a course that puts our republic at risk or could destroy it rather than build on how far we have come?

What is the end game if we stay on the divisive and destructive course we are on? Do you like what you see happening to America?

As citizens we enjoy something unique in the country. How can we sit by and let it be changed for the worse or destroyed?

July 4th celebrations should be more than fireworks, picnics and parades.

Why, and what, did you celebrate on Independence Day?

Do you want to continue?

Janice Ellis has lived and worked in Missouri for more than three decades, analyzing educational, political, social and economic issues across race, ethnicity, age and socio-economic status.