“Hi, I’m Senator John McCain.
“Today, we celebrate our independence, declared 233 years ago, achieved through the trial of a long and difficult war, and preserved through the years with the blood and sacrifice of millions. It’s an occasion for Americans to reunite with family and enjoy a mid-summer holiday with picnics and barbeques, ballgames and golf, and other recreation.
“Our appreciation for what happened on a hot summer day in Philadelphia all these years ago is often limited to a fleeting, warm feeling about an ancient generation of Americans who, against great odds, stood up to a powerful oppressor, and claimed their natural right to liberty. This is an accurate but incomplete understanding of the revolution begun that day. For written on that piece of yellowed parchment is not only the bold assertion that thirteen former British colonies were and forever would remain free and independent states, but also the once radical idea that history has a right side and a wrong side, and that Americans stood and would always stand on the right side.
“The signers put their names and ransomed their lives to a universal, not just a national ideal; that all human beings everywhere, not just Americans, not just the mostly well-off white men gathered in Philadelphia for the occasion, ‘are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’
“We’ve not always been true to that ideal, and the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Slavery, Jim Crow, the disenfranchisement of women were betrayals of the principles enshrined in our founding documents, and had to be conquered before we could claim without qualification to be firmly on the right side of history. But we overcame our faults, corrected our mistakes and in the unfinished story of our Republic, we continue our progress toward ‘a more perfect union.’ And, in the struggle to do so, we have achieved greatness.
“Our wealth and power, unequaled by any nation before or since, are not the cause of our greatness. Our ideals have made us great. We are strong and prosperous because we are free, not the other way around. We have marched, in fits and starts, toward the right side of history and have ascended to a most exalted station in the affairs of mankind – ‘leader of the free world.’ It’s a great tribute to us, but also a great responsibility.
“We share a kinship of ideals with every man and woman on earth who struggles for their God-given rights. The world must never doubt where we stand in the liberation struggles of our time. We stand with those who risk the anger of tyrants and their lives for the proposition that just government is derived from the consent of the governed; that all people are entitled to equal justice under the law.
“Today, we stand with the millions of Iranians who brave batons, imprisonment and gunfire to have their voices heard and their votes counted. They do not ask us to arm them or come to their assistance with anything other than public declarations of solidarity, and public denunciations of the tyrants who oppress them. We have a moral obligation to do so.
“There are those among us who warn that a strong and unequivocal declaration of moral support for Iranians would be used by the cruel regime in power there to convince their subject people that the United States is behind the civil unrest they have attempted to hide from the world. But the regime will make that claim no matter what we say or do. Do they really believe Iranians don’t know why they’re protesting and who is oppressing them? Do they think Iranians whose votes were discarded, whose voices have been ignored, whose lives have been threatened by the regime they wish to be rid of will think America has put them in that position; that the CIA caused a brave and idealistic young woman to step out of her car to join their protest, only to be instantly murdered by the henchmen of the regime?
“Iranians know the truth. They know who is oppressing them and why. It’s a government that governs without their consent, which beats them, imprisons them and threatens their lives to preserve its own hold on power, and not to resist some imagined foreign enemy.
“They are not fools, these brave and determined Iranians. They are on the right side of history, and the cynics among us, who think them fools, are on the wrong side. Liberty and justice will someday be theirs. Let us hope they will have reason to remember then, who their friends were in their struggle for freedom.
“This is John McCain, wishing you a happy and meaningful Fourth of July.”