The America of 2016 is as unlike the America that declared its independence from Britain in 1776 as Bernie Sanders is unlike Thomas Jefferson.
Just as Mr. Sanders has no clue to the importance of the freedoms which Jefferson and his compatriots proclaimed were the essence of this country's founding, so the majority of Americans today have no clue to what the Fourth of July is all about. My generation has failed abysmally to transmit to our successors an appreciation of those freedoms -- and of their inextricable intertwining with America's prosperity and exceptional character.
Benjamin Franklin, once asked by a woman what the founding fathers had given to America after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had adjourned in September 1787, replied succinctly: "A republic, madam -- if you can keep it."
We have not managed to keep the republic our fathers handed down to us.
Instead of a government of laws, we have a government of lawlessness -- at all levels.
Instead of a government led by citizens who instinctively put their country's interests first, we have a government led by those who cannot see past their own noses -- or their next election campaign.
Instead of an electorate driven by debates of the issues that matter, we have an electorate that is passionate only for bread and circuses, and who is less and less likely even to bother to vote.
Instead of supporting an economy that fosters a rising tide to lift all boats, Americans look only for short-term gain regardless of the cost to others -- especially if that gain comes in the form of "free" government benefits, or special-interest legislation drafted and paid for by professional lobbyists.
Instead of teaching our children how this country overcame oppression and hardship to become a land of unparalleled opportunity, we teach them sexual confusion, gender prolixity and the virtues of demanding open access to any bathroom they care to use.
Instead of having an independent press to keep politicians in check, we have reporters doing their utmost to stay one-sided while nonetheless protesting to be "unbiased."
Instead of honoring a tradition of speaking truth to power, we are increasingly a country where blatant lies are told to the ignorant, who happily swallow whatever they are told.
Instead of being a country of local communities that met in taverns, at holiday fairs and on front porches, we have become a country of special enclaves united only by their Facebook pages and chat rooms, where few deal face-to-face, and no one has to be accountable for what they say -- unless, God forbid, it should be seen by some as politically incorrect.
And as regards political correctness, we have degenerated from a nation of self-reliant individuals into a mewling cacophony of mostly imaginary victimhood.
Instead of being a Christian "beacon on a hill", we have devolved into an amorphous blob of multiculturalism and dull venality.
We are, in short, largely the opposite in 2016 of everything our forefathers fought for -- and for which they risked their lives and sacred honor -- in 1776.
Those values are no longer important, because few remember -- let alone honor -- them today, or can even describe what the Revolutionary War was about.
My prayer to God on this, our 240th birthday, is that we may recover our lost values, and live to be a Christian beacon to the world once again. And may God have mercy on us if we fail.