Friday, October 31

What Does a Patriotic American Look Like?

Despite the incessant polarization that elections bring out among partisans, I am hopeful that we can all agree that campaigns are waged by men and women that believe in democracy. We may disagree vehemently with each other about exactly what democracy means, but no one can deny that there is something innately wondrous about a place in the world where people can make the most important decision about the direction of their country for themselves. This, I believe, is truly what being patriotic is about--seeing our country for all its bumps and bruises and being convinced democracy is worth it.

But it doesn't mean we should see it as running on auto-pilot either. We the People are upholding part of our job as citizens in pushing hard for the vision of America that we'd like to see; by weeding through the crop of candidates, supporting the best ones, and voting to elect them. But, as someone in my local paper pointed out, that is not guarantee enough, if we wish to live in a vibrant democracy.

Once the dust settles from any election, we must continue to petition our government to continue to form that more perfect Union. We should constantly look for ways to increase democracy for all Americans; this includes breaking the two party stronghold, making voting both accessible and secure, and choosing candidates who truly support publicly-financed elections. We should not reward those politicians who say one thing to be elected and do another when they go to work. And finally, we shouldn't wait for other people to ask us to get involved.

The promise of our country is fulfilled by participating in a living democracy: in the doing, not in the being done to. To all those who work every day to keep democracy alive, whether through protesting injustice, throwing your hat into the ring, or teaching the next generation to understand what democracy means and how to play a part, we are all better for it.

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