When I was a child, I was taught that I couldn’t have everything, but that I may have one thing with persistence and patience. That working with others required compromise and respect, even when I didn’t agree. That in times of trouble, great leaders arose–people like Washington and Lincoln–who put country above personal gain and even their own safety.
I was taught that America was Beautiful. The Land of Opportunity. The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
Are these things still true? Weeks of political theater and mind numbing ineptitude have led me to question these and many other long held beliefs. What does it say about us when our political system produces actors and not leaders? That a Lincoln or Washington would never win a primary today because of how they look or sound? What good is it to assemble one of the world’s greatest collections of individual talent when we cannot even agree to disagree? A house divided cannot stand.
And yet my heart rebels. Logic be damned, it cries. The American people are better than this. We have risen to challenges before, both foreign and domestic, and must do so again. It is time for us to reclaim our government. Vote. Speak. And if necessary, run. We deserve better, but democracy only works when we participate. Not just for a day but over time. Cast out the actors. Demand problem solvers, not rabble rousers. Public servants, not glory seekers.
The challenges we face are daunting, yes, but we are the people that built Hoover Dam. We are the people that put a man on the moon. We can cry about our troubles, or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work. Will America still be around for its 300th birthday? We decide. The fate of our nation is in our hands–as it should be.