Struggle has improved our democracy


Let me finish tonight with this failure on the part of some politicians to know our history.

This is not about an individual or a group like the Tea Partiers.  This is about us, our country, its ideals, and the progress it’s represented in human history.

And it is important.

The key message about America is we got a lot of it right in 1776 - we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Nothing in our history compares to the wonder, God-given wonder of that statement - because it’s a statement of ideals, of purpose that commands a universal respect.

In many ways, the history of America, at our best, has been the slow progression of rights that have come about here - the recognition of that Declaration of 1776’s full ideal - perhaps not even understood or intended by the signers - the founding fathers.

All men? How about African slaves who were brought here for 250 years of unpaid servitude - chained, beaten slavery - where the whip kept the deal - the deal being you work for nothing and do, including live with whom you’re told to.

All men? How about women?  It took until the 20th century to include women in the most basic right - to have a hand, a thought, in the work of our republic - the right to vote.

Liberty?  Really?  Did we give people liberty during the McCarthy period?  When people were having their careers ruined by wild allegations, by rolling investigations of public officials for possibly holding “anti-American attitudes.”  

It is not “gotcha” journalism to expect elected public officials to know such basics about the country we all love.

The truly great thing about America is not just that the people who got us started got it wondrously close to right in principle, but that the American people since have fitfully, with great difficulty, strong debate, and even a brutal Civil War, made it better. 

That is our history and we should be proud to know it.


Struggle has improved our democracy