“[Some] dream of an America where every day is April 15th,” Ronald Reagan said. “I dream of an America where every day is the Fourth of July.” How do we see the Fourth itself? Most view July 4 as John Adams did: “a day of pomp and parade.” Others, perverting the American storybook, invent tyranny in every corner and bigotry in every heart.

In his 1989 Farewell Address as president, Reagan warned of such fiction: “If we don’t know what we did, we won’t know who we are.” To avoid that fate, he urged us to “start with some basics — more attention to American history and greater emphasis of civic ritual.” We listened, but didn’t hear.

In the last three decades, unity fraying and culture coarsening, increasingly left-wing extremists have worked to debase what Adams, Jefferson, and the 54 other signers of the Declaration of Independence hoped to build via “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

Several cases:

Recently, at a June event in Portland, Oregon, to ironically protest “Fascist violence,” Andy Ngo, an Asian journalist often threatened by the terrorist group Antifa, was bloodied and beaten so badly by its trademark black-clad thugs that he was hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage. Dodging rocks, Ngo was ignored by police, who saw the beatings and did nothing, like Portland’s mayor and other officials, to assist him. This is at one with other U.S. totalitarian cities, giving only liberal groups equal protection under the law.

Meanwhile, down the coast, in one California city after another — San Francisco, San Jose, LA — the homeless populace on public streets has soared, swelling garbage, human filth, and drug needles, even medieval Typhus having reemerged. Tents litter main thoroughfares, crime turning rampant. Cross-country in the Capital, the same tent encampments have quadrupled in the last two years. The Left is unwilling or unable to serve the middle class, banishing its stability and order.

When last we saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she was visiting an illegal immigration detention center, cursing border agents, and decrying the illegal alien crisis that has exploded in the past two to three years — first denying there was a crisis; then calling it “manufactured”; recently blaming President Trump for her and fellow Leftists’ refusal to spend a dime in humanitarian and, above all, security aid to ease the crisis they themselves spawned. What Super-Hypocrites of the Hill.

Finally, what of Colin Kaepernick? Having refused to kneel during the National Anthem, saying it denoted racism, football’s UnSpecial K recently got the athletic shoe company Nike to recall a sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross flag featuring 13 white stars arranged in a circle to represent the original Colonies, that would have gone on sale in July. Earth to Nike. Betsy Ross was a heroine, not repressor. Hundreds of thousands of Americans of every color died under the American flag in every foreign war to keep us free.

Given the Left’s monopoly of government, media, academe (political groupthink), and business (high-tech), it is hard to find trace of an older, saner America. Yet the Fourth demands it. The Declaration of Independence was a generous document, offering to give “our lives.” In April, a large part of the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris caught fire and nearly collapsed. Americans are donating generously, as always, helping France to rebuild.

The Declaration was courageous, risking all. Here, we ironically can look to the Nation we left in 1776 but whose 2017 vote to exit the European Union mimed Trump’s 2016 shocker — technically not a U.S. issue, but forged by the same populists v. elites. This year Britain will likely leave the EU, deal or not, like our Founders possessed with the spine to go it alone. The same force still animates Middle America, Trump’s bastion for re-election next year.

Finally, the Fourth of July, above all, hailed sovereignty — a clearly defined country. Google Franklin Roosevelt on radio, enlisting America to “win through” in its “righteous might” to “absolute victory” toward a “rendezvous with destiny.” Few wonder if FDR would question America as “One Nation under God” — or denounce his own party for refusing to enforce our borders.

If the media and the Left (pardon the redundancy) knew U.S. history, they would recall how Benjamin Franklin was asked on the last day the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” This requires an informed citizenry: difficult, I grant, since it is hard to find a comprehensive history about America not politically correct in the extreme.

In his Farewell, Reagan said, prophetically, “We’ve got to teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important: Why the Pilgrims came here, who Jimmy Doolittle was, and what those 30 seconds over Tokyo meant.”

Because so many of our children haven’t been fairly or deeply taught — Ocasio-Cortez, Kaepernick, and most of Antifa’s members come to mind — they don’t know what’s important, or what lasts. Inadvertently, perhaps, more likely, intentionally, they would destroy the America founded so bravely, against such odds, in 1776.

Every great civilization has ultimately collapsed from within. That can happen even to a Nation where a former president dreamt that “every day is the Fourth of July.”

Curt Smith is the author of 17 books, including the new "The Presidents and the Pastime: The History of Baseball and the White House." He is a former speechwriter to President George H. W. Bush, Associated Press “Best in New York State” radio commentator, and Senior Lecturer of English at the University of Rochester. Mr. Smith writes twice monthly for Gatehouse Media newspapers. Email: curtsmith@acc.net