Happy Independence Day from City Shore Wealth Advisory Group!

Read Bob Farrell's message to our clients for Independence Day - July 4th, 2024
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This year the United States will celebrate its birthday. How are you planning to celebrate? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably enjoy fireworks, barbeque, and patriotic music; this is how we celebrate being American. After all, why not? Why would this year be any different from any other Independence Day? 

Actually, this year is different. It’s an election year! In years like this, the words “being American” take on an entirely different meaning. 

The average human life expectancy in the United States is 79.7 years.1 During many of those years, we don’t vote. So very often, saying “I’m American” is a lot like saying, “I have brown eyes,” or “I’m right-handed.” Being American simply means that you live in America. It says little more about you than the color of your hair.


But in years like this, that changes. No longer is being an American a passive thing. It’s a choice. Every few years, we make the decision to take part in one of the noblest experiments in the history of mankind: the experiment to determine if men and women can govern themselves. The experiment to choose for ourselves what we can and ought to be, and the experiment to rid ourselves of dictators, kings, and nobles. To settle once and for all that no man has to bow; that no gender, race, or religion should lord over our common humanity. 

You see, every election year we choose the person who leads us. We choose who represents us, both at home and abroad. This process says much about who we are as a nation. Think back on your history lessons. Think how rare it is to live in a country that can have complete shifts in power, with a transition that occurs peacefully. 

Most of the time, I feel it’s easy to take this fact for granted—after all, most of us have never known anything else. But this process is at the core of what makes us so unique. It’s an amazing thing that our leaders are willing to set aside their power—not because they don’t want it anymore, but because they understand the greater goal of upholding freedom and independence. 

This singular phenomenon is the result of more than just laws. It goes beyond even the Constitution. Many governments have laid down similar limits on their chief executive’s power, to no avail. So what ensures that our leaders don’t abuse those rules? We do; us; you and I. When a massive population of people collectively exercises their rights, there is no power in the world that can stop it. 

So, what are these rights? Here are a few:

Our freedom of speech. We exercise it every time we talk politics by the water cooler. Every time a comedian mocks the most powerful person in the most famous house in the world.

Our freedom of the press. We all might grumble about the foibles and biases of the media, but remember what Thomas Jefferson said. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”2 At no point is our right to a free press more important than during an election year. It’s the only check against false facts and half-truths. It’s our chief source of information, so that we can make informed choices. It’s our main provider of context, so that the information we acquire is properly weighed and judged. Whether it’s through newspapers, television, or the internet, we never pay more attention to the press than during an election. Thus, we will never exercise our right to a free press more than during a year like this one.

Our right to vote. The 15th and 19th amendments prohibit the denial of the right to vote based on gender, race, or color. They ensure that all Americans have the freedom to choose for themselves who should speak for them, represent them, and lead them. We exercise this hard-won right every time we cast a ballot. 

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “We always have these rights no matter what year it is.” And that’s true. They’re guaranteed by the Constitution; twenty-four hours a day, three-hundred and sixty-five days a year; in rain, or sleet, or snow; in good times and bad. But it’s during an election year that the majority of us truly exercise those rights. And it’s those rights that make America unique. It’s for those rights that we declared independence in the first place. And it’s when we exercise them that we’re truly being American. 

When you think about being American this Independence Day, don’t think about baseball or apple pie. When you get right down to it, America isn’t about sports or food or music or money. It’s not even about the English language. We have those things only because of what America’s truly about: the basic rights we guarantee ourselves; that we guarantee for each other. The rights that men and women have fought for and died for. The rights that people have sacrificed their lives, fortunes, and reputations to secure. So, when we truly exercise our rights, that’s when the word “American” ceases to be a noun, but an adjective. “Being American” means “being someone who values and respects my fellow man.” “Being American” means standing up for the self-evident truths that break the bonds of slavery and free us from the shackles of ignorance. 

With all this in mind, I want to wish you a happy Independence Day. This is not your ordinary holiday. This is the time we can show we’re American, in word and in deed.

To you and your family, I wish a happy Fourth of July! Now go enjoy being American.  


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