U.S. Rep. John Carter

In the spirit of this being the season of report cards, I figured it would be appropriate for me to update you on how the Congress is doing. According to an annual Gallup survey, confidence in the Congress has plummeted to an all-time low - 14 percent. In report card terms, that rating would clearly qualify for "needs improvement."

The American people are not discontent with those who protect their freedom - nearly 7 in 10 are confident in our brave servicemen and women - or those who create most of our new jobs - small businesses garnered nearly 60 percent of the country's confidence. But when you consider that the President and the Congress combined barely register the confidence of 4 in 10 Americans, it says we have a problem on our hands.

Last year, gas prices were going up, nothing had been done to secure our borders and chaos in Iraq was unfolding on our television screens - so the Democrats said, "Republicans are the problem, throw the bums out," and a lot of people listened. Now, here we are, a year later and gas prices are still preposterously high, our borders are still broken, and the clock is ticking on our mission in Iraq. So much for a new direction.

The leading Democrat in the United States Senate, Harry Reid, never wastes an opportunity to tell us the war is lost, or to criticize our commanders in the field. That's no way to defeat an enemy bent on the destruction of our ideals and our way of life. The Democrats in the House never miss an opportunity to try and raise your taxes, even if it means trying to re-write the way a bill becomes a law. They have gone so far as to treat the federal treasury like a slush fund to draw from at will in order to curry favor with friends, fatcats, and special interests. That's no way to make government smaller and more responsive to you.

This is an hour of great testing for our country - it's not the time for leaders who want to try and play politics with our troops and our taxes. So as we take time to celebrate over 230 years of independence, we should take a moment to recognize that we remain a people still given life by the limited-government roots that were planted in our psyche long ago.

Our independence and all the precious freedoms that come with it were not won on a single summer day in 1776 when a group of wise men gathered to sign a document. American Independence was a movement that gained momentum from the heroic acts of a few who thought liberty was worth standing up for amid a sea of complacent colonialism.

Today, anti-Americanism is on the rise all across the world. Free people face a common foe who seeks to destroy all that we believe in and all that we live for. We don't have to remake or recast America, but we need to take all this frustration in our citizenry at home and abroad and, as Patrick Henry put it, make the most of it.

On this holiday when we light up the sky, we continue to look above and be guided by His wisdom and redeemed by His mercy. God Bless our country, and all the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect it.

U.S. Rep. John Carter writes an occasional column for the Empire-Tribune.