Monday, July 04, 2011

Keeping America Awesome

Why is America so awesome?

Is it because we tend to win our wars? Is it because we consume a disproportionately high percentage of the world's natural resources? Is it just that we appear to rule the world, getting into everyone's business whether they want us to or not? Is that what makes us so great?

No, not really.

This nation was never intended to be one big-@$$ country, but began as a union of “free and independent States.” Even as the Constitution provides for a strong central government, the several States are not merely arbitrary administrative jurisdictions. They enjoy limited sovereignty over their own affairs. Each and every one of them has been the place of refuge for people from all over the world. The best, the brightest, the most ambitious, the greatest dreamers the world has to offer -- all come here, more than anyplace else. (Yes, even you, Canada.)

So today, there were hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and families headed to the pool. And tonight, here in the Nation's capital city, there will be fireworks on the National Mall. Over a hundred thousand people will be on the grounds, watching a concert with top-name stars, one that they could just as easily see on public television. The celebratory display will be repeated in great cities and little hamlets throughout the land. Together, they will celebrate a great experiment, an idea, one that still works, still draws the world to itself, in spite of everything.

When the Nation's founders finished their work, someone asked Benjamin Franklin what had been created. “A democracy, if you can keep it.” In the coming year, Americans frustrated with the current political situation will look to the elections for a savior, someone with all the answers. But they alone cannot deceive themselves. They must concede that the work of keeping America as a great nation, will not be one of a single person-as-panacea. It will be that of each and every one of us. We cannot deceive ourselves either. If our "free and independent States" are less free, less independent than they were intended to be lately, it is because we sat back and watched someone take that freedom away from us, and because we lack the resolve to take it back. Are we going to settle for that by the end of next year's election?

The buck doesn't stop in Washington anymore; it stops with who we see in the mirror. Remember that before you get your hopes up, America. Stay tuned, and stay in touch.

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