The pursuit of Watermelon

Friday, August 16, 2013

The pursuit of Watermelon

Like many, I was over in Owensville for the Watermelon Festival a couple of weeks ago and had a great time. The Watermelon Festival is one of many community festivals in the five counties that comprise Indiana House District 64, and it is one of the best.

What interests me about it perhaps the most is that what makes these festivals great is somewhat foreign to our friends in our large cities such as Indianapolis and Washington D.C. Indeed, these seats of government would do well to pause and consider what goes on in Owensville and thousands of “villes,” “burgs,” “stadts,” and “tons” across rural America.

The trend in American government over the last several decades has been to transform what our founders noted was an unalienable right in our nation’s Declaration of Independence, “the pursuit of happiness,” and turn it into government mandates on what happiness should be to us. In other words, rather than letting Americans decide for themselves what makes them happy, our governments at the national and state level have transformed the concept and taken to telling us what happiness is. They then develop policies and laws to shove whatever they believe down our throats, without caring whether we think it will make us happy or not.

Take, for example, the issue of obesity. Yes, it is unwise to be overweight, and yes, I would encourage folks to get into good physical shape; but NO, I do not think it is the government’s place to tell us what obesity is and what we can eat or drink. If an American wants to be overweight, so be it. We don’t need the Mayor of New York telling us how large our drinks can be at McDonalds, especially when such an act was ruled unconstitutional. Could you imagine a future where we are only allowed to purchase a food item that is weight-tested against some computer chip implanted in our body?

This government-knows-best mentality has crept into nearly every facet of our lives. From education to health care, we are told by those in Washington D.C., and to a lesser extent, any local government, how to conduct ourselves, how to live, how to die, what we can eat, how we can farm and how to run our businesses. These are all subject to an ever-growing government authority. In fact, if one were to try to open a business these days without first spending considerable time looking into the existence of government regulations, they would be a fool. Who wants to start a business only to run afoul of some unknown regulation that will shut you down?

Herein lies why I like the Owensville Watermelon Festival so much. It is not about big rides; it is not about huge amounts of food (though there was some good food there!) and it is not about famous types from Hollywood coming in to entertain. No; Owensville’s festival is great because it is what the people of Owensville desire: good food, good family events, entertainment and lots and lots of time and space to visit with friends and neighbors in a cheerful environment. I’m not sure that our friends in the big cities have enough exposure to these types of events that promote the traditional American values of faith, family and freedom.

The Watermelon Festival in Owensville, and events like it, represent the fruit of a free people who are pursuing happiness as they see fit. The Founding Fathers promoted this idea that Americans should be free to pursue happiness for themselves. So many brave heroes have fought and died to preserve our ability to enjoy the foundations of faith, family and freedom, which are the essence of America.

Many thanks are due to the organizers and everyone who came out (as well as to the Lord for the weather). These events recharge the Hoosier soul to be with folks who are not only pursuing happiness, but are happy. They represent the most sacred and time-honored traditions of our blessed Republic.


State Rep. Tom Washburne serves as Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He also serves on the Financial Institutions Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Washburne represents the entirety of Gibson County and portions of Knox, Pike, Vanderburgh and Posey counties.