Two-hundred and forty-two years ago, the United States was born and so began the greatest experiment in human history. Could a Republic stand the test of time and resist the pull to autocracy or the pressure to break up into multiple small countries?

Over the course of the past 242 years, our Republic has withstood pulls and pressure, both from within and abroad, and throughout it all, the United States of America has remained that ‘shining city on the hill.’

Independence Day is a celebration of our unique style of government and the ability for American citizens to be involved in the decision making process. When the delegates to the Continental Congress met in the summer of 1776, they not only declared their independence from England, but also that “all men are created equal.”

The United States was founded on the principle there was not to be a ruling class and over the past 242 years, we have shown no matter where you are from, the color of your skin, your gender, or occupation, you can help chart the course of America. We all have a role to play in the great experiment called the United States of America. That is what we celebrate on Independence Day.

Throughout the Third District, Iowans are engaged in our system of government. When speaking to those who represent you, be it a school board member, mayor, state legislator, or your member of Congress, expressing your thoughts and sharing your ideas is a critical part of our system of government.

When I speak with groups, I often ask what the five principles in the First Amendment are. Folks in the group quickly shout out the first four: speech, press, religion, and assembly. The room then gets quiet as folks try to remember what the fifth principle is. Sometimes I even catch someone trying to look it up on their phone. That fifth principle in the First Amendment is the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances. Often forgotten, it is one of the most important.

In 2017, I held over 1,000 meetings with Iowans and in each one, someone was using their First Amendment right to petition their government. By sharing their thoughts, ideas, struggles, triumphs, and solutions, Iowans help me to best represent them in Congress.

Whether you get involved with an advocacy group, in political campaigns at any level, call your representatives, write letters and emails, talk to your friends on social media, engage in protests and rallies, you are continuing to fulfill the declaration made in 1776. So, continue being involved, continue telling me what you think, and continue to hold your elected officials at every level accountable because it is up to all of us – working together- to move our country forward and make her better.

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