This past Independence Day, I saw two things that disturbed me greatly: First, people bashing America and its shortcomings; Second, people defending America blindly, while giving no thought to others’ criticisms. I’m a liberal and I more than acknowledge that there are problems with our country. Our executive branch is larger and more powerful than I’d like, our education system is broken, and our economic policy is not optimal for growth. I also know America has a lot of ugly secrets in its past. From the genocide of Native Americans to slavery to our foreign policy nightmare with Latin America in the early twentieth century, it’s easy to see why so many are angered by the jingoistic attitude that July 4th celebrations can incur. But I also recognize how remarkable of an achievement it was for those few men to break away, in the name of independence, and take a risk by establishing a democracy back in 1776. I also recognize that although the sins of our Founding Fathers were great, their accomplishments were greater, leaving a legacy of democracy and national sovereignty that would spread like wildfire throughout the world. The revolution was important and the ideals that this country was founded on, ideals of equality, respect for one another, and a commitment to progress, are ideals to be proud of, even if we don’t always live up to those ideals. I know many liberals hate to hear it, but the majority of the world is worse off than us, from third world countries to dictatorships, the world has got a lot of bad in it. And the much longer, more troubled histories of nations such as England have more mistakes and terrible acts in them than ours do. America has ideals and a commitment to democracy and freedom you can find nowhere else. Our spirit is strong and even if our government doesn’t live up to that spirit all the time, our citizens strive for it. Independence Day isn’t about petty squabbles and historical smear campaigns. This day is about celebrating our achievements and our ideals, acknowledging our mistakes, and reaffirming our commitment to make this country better so that, one day, those principles that the men who drafted our Declaration of Independence put forth, will be fully realized.
Independence Day and What America Means to Me
July 11, 2012