The Fourth of July is our nation’s birthday. This grand experiment, as our government of the people, by the people and for the people has been called, has flourished for 241 years.
In 1776, its premise was revolutionary; in 2017 it is the much imitated, never duplicated standard of democratic republic governance. Oh, some, especially political candidates, will tell you that the very underpinnings of our great nation are rotting away. Don’t believe them! The very fact that our United States of America exists today is proof that its premise is sound and enduring. The US Constitution remains the shortest, oldest, written constitution still in use by any nation in the world today. People all over the world continue to want to come to our shores to live and work. While we struggle with our nation’s problems, for we do have problems, we are privileged to live in the greatest nation on earth.
Patriotism is defined as the love of and devotion to one’s country. It’s hard to escape a disturbing trend of late, however in which patriotism has become yet another club used to pound on political opponents.
‘We are true patriots! Those other guys are weasels trying to subvert this great country! We love this country more than you do!’ All said while waving their flags with hand placed firmly over their hearts. Do not confuse this with true patriotism. This is political campaigning, an effort to further one’s ambitions by using the flag as a stepping stool. Calling a political opponent’s patriotism into question is a cheap insult and the refuge of a coward.
True patriotism is much like true love. You don’t pretend that your country is perfect, without blemish or room for improvement, but you love it anyway. The difference is that as a citizen of our country, you have the right and responsibility to participate in the process that guides our country.
Sitting on your duff, whining about all the problems and corruption, while seemingly our national sport, is not patriotic. A patriot is willing to recognize a problem and act to solve it using the most powerful and feared weapon on the planet, the ballot box.
Those who fear the ballot box will do whatever it takes to control it. Gerrymandering and making it difficult to register and to actually vote by limiting hours and days are just as harmful as any foreign government’s effort to influence our elections. The people of Florida had to sue their own Legislature to control gerrymandering after the overwhelming 2010 approval of two Fair District amendments. The Florida Senate fought to keep their right to select districts that made sure incumbents had an edge until early 2016. Using taxpayer funds to do so. And lost.
The possibility that any foreign entity, whether government, business or individual might have made any effort to effect our election should be a wake up call. And should send chills down the spine of every American. Isn’t it bad enough that voters have to fight the influence of American businesses, lobbyists and special interests? Now we have to fight the influence of those from outside our country too?
Any foreign influence, no matter how vague or ineffective it may be, in any American election is too much.
The last refuge of the American people is their power to vote and control who represents them at all levels of our government. Americans need to stop taking that power for granted and use it more often. Doing so would be the best way to make it clear that American citizens are the ones elected officials should pay attention to, not special interests.
Patriotism in our country is not a simple thing. There’s a lot of judgement going on as to who is patriotic, and what political party or position is that of a true patriot. For the health of our country, how about a simpler, more inclusive, view of patriotism?
Does your heart not stir along the curb when the stars and stripes go by? Do you bow your head to pray for those in harm’s way wearing the service uniform of the US? Do you acknowledge that while not perfect, the United States remains an honorable nation trying to do the right thing by its citizens as well as the citizens of the world? Do you reflect on the founding of this country, and it’s unique place in the world? Do you exercise your right to vote? Then you are a true patriot!
Happy Independence Day!