Make America . . .

“America is back”. That was the opening line of a recent commercial, and all I could think was “Really? Where was it?”.

As far as I can tell, America hasn’t taken a trip anywhere, though it has meandered a bit. These last few years, the poor country has been pulled in so many directions, it must feel a little like Gumby. With only days left before the mid-term elections, I have to wonder if America is trying to hide until the worst is over. But then, what is the worst? We’ve certainly seen a whole lot of bad behavior, that’s for sure. If America was a kid, it would have been sent to its room for days. But then, it’s not one kid – it’s millions and where do you send them when they’ve been busy setting little fires everywhere? I’d send them to the voting booth.

America belongs to EVERYONE. Yup, sorry to break it to anyone who thinks only the anointed few get to lay claim, but that’s the truth. Of course, the original inhabitants found out the hard way when new guys (English refugees otherwise known as Pilgrims) pulled up, grabbed the land and all THEY got was a tee shirt and nifty reservations in the middle of nowhere. Didn’t they welcome the Pilgrim dudes, give them corn pudding and help them survive first winters? Sure, but who’s counting. We still make those cheery construction paper feathers to honor them on Thanksgiving, so it’s all good, right?

Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it.

Mark Twain

For 241 years, America’s been stepping away, and coming back. We’ve been to war, to the moon and to the polls. We’ve raised the flag, our voices, our fists, and our leaders. We’ve seen the best and the worst of times. We have been and are a great, beautiful land with fierce spirit and big hearts. We fled a monarchy, started a republic, became a democracy and today waffle between them, with some resurgent populism and nationalism thrown in. (we know how well THAT worked out!)

Through all its growing pains, America learned to walk and became a country to reckon with. Yet, those who came after the Mayflower crowd didn’t get dibs on sleeping arrangements — or rights. Some came for a new life; some had lives stolen from them. Newcomers with different speech, different cultures were hopeful. However, for those in chains with ebony complexion, hope was in short supply. Newbies all went through America’s version of fraternity hazing, some far worse than others. Few were immune from some version of suspicion, job blocking, violence and ghettos. Ask your grandparents.

America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.   Alexis de Tocqueville

America has been rich, poor and in between. We’ve been to war, juggled peace and though the people we put in charge weren’t always our favorites, we believed they had our backs. Often many just pad pockets (theirs not ours), hand gifts to corporations in our name, and today there’s an IOU so large our grandchildren are will be saddled with debt. Still, some leaders have shone, have lead, have helped build this country’s greatness with integrity and courage. And some, were everyman.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.   Abraham Lincoln

Did America leave – or did we leave it? Since 46% of the country never voted in the last election, I’m thinking maybe the latter. If our country left when we weren’t watching, why weren’t we? If America had actually checked out, it might have been because it couldn’t bear to see what we were becoming. And if that were the case, it better buckle up and take an extended vacay because we are full up today with things that go bump in the night. And we can only blame ourselves.

Voting has always been our checks and balances on dictatorship, monarchy and well, chaos. Thought we haven’t reached those particular cliffs yet, goblins of history fly around on a regular basis which is one reason the 17th Amendment decided senators need to be elected directly by the people. The 19th Amendment finally gave the hard fought right to vote to women in 1920 (Half of our country’s humans, you know, the half that gave birth to the male side, had to beg for the vote. Don’t get me started) and the Voting Rights act protect the vote of Black Americans came in 1965. Yet, in this election year, more than 53,000 Black American votes have been suppressed in one southern state alone.

“If everything is to stay the same, everything has to change”. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa Tancredi

Politicians are a funny lot. They represent us just enough to get on the ballot but not enough to stand up when truth is required. Campaign finance boosts them up with burgeoning dollars and their job keeps on giving long after retirement. But few politicians take cues from the original promise of their positions, as held by colonial predecessors.

The movie ‘John Adams’ should be required viewing for everyone who wants to understand how our country was born and what those who nurtured it were made of. Early framers included a hemp farmer, smuggler, even a revolutionary. They were mostly poor, some poorly educated but all believed in this infant country. I wonder if they would recognize their governing counterparts today.

As it scans the world today, America may want to get outta Dodge while the getting’s good but where would she go? Democracy has been taking a hit in governments everywhere and climate isn’t the only thing getting hotter. Global power grabs threaten what people fought so hard to keep safe and there’s no vaccine for that – yet.

America was born of revolt, flourished on dissent, and became great through experimentation.  Henry Steele Commager.

America is growing but are we smarter, more compassionate, kinder? Those who think vanilla is the only flavor are terrified that latte people will take over. The glass ceiling has a few cracks but still rigidly holds its place. Different strokes for different folks has a rainbow ring to it but that ring gets increasingly tighter. Here’s the thing. We can’t hold tight to the status quo without losing what made us America in the first place. If we do, the shining city on the hill will never again be a light in this world.

We have another chance to get it right. Elections are one week from now. Don’t blow it. We are so much more than the flag, anthem, or pledge; we are the people. America, we need what you were born to be. We need you to help fight against demagoguery and nativism, racism, division and hatred — not surrender to it. You were always great; it’s we who need to be great for YOU. We’ll start by voting.

America – YOU be YOU.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Make America . . .

  1. This post is excellent. Obviously well researched and very well written. I just hope it’s not too late for America to be America. Next Tuesday will either be a first step to getting America back on track or the final nail in the coffin on our American democracy. Let’s hope it’s the former and not the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think about this very subject quite often Mary. I understand that politicians need slogans and “Making America Great Again” is a fine one, with such idealism built in. But who decides what great is. Opinions are everywhere and to presume we have the monopoly on what is right is nuts. America is such a diverse collection of people and ideas and we all want to have the chance to see our perfection in our land.

    I agree that folks do not take the opportunity to vote seriously enough. In so many countries the ability to vote is not a free one. Political change is controlled by a very select few. We must stay vigilant and keep America moving in the right direction.

    Like

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