For those of you that know me as a realist (some would say pessimist, but I digress), it would be a safe assumption to see the title above and expect a sarcastic diatribe to follow. But for one thing, I would agree with you.
The past few days has given me new hope – hope for an America that I have looked for endelessly and have wished for passionately. It’s not just that “my candidate” was chosen to be the 44th President of the United States of America, or that “my party” has taken power in Washington. It’s much more than that.
I’ve often paraphrased a passage from a movie called “With Honors”, starring Joe Pesci. In it, he plays a destitute homeless man living on Harvard’s campus. Discovering a thesis by co-star Brendan Fraser, he is taken in by the young man in exchange for the slow return of the document. Through the course of the film, it is learned that Pesci’s character is more than he seems, and gives a rousing monologue during one of Fraser’s law classes at the Ivy League school.
I tell the story and relate the sentiments often because they are so true, and embody what, in my opinion, is the spirit of our country. When asked what is the beauty of the Constitution, the reply is simple: our founding fathers were smart enough to realize that they didn’t know everything, and therefore created a government that could change itself.
Our founding fathers, though white landowners, and many slaveowners, were in essence liberals. They were radicals. By signing their name to the Declaration of Independence in August 1776 and forging a new nation, they were signing their death certificate, should this “experiment” not work out.
A big ado has been made of the foreign sentiment “how can America elect Bush and then 4 years later elect someone so unlike him?”
But that’s the beauty of America. That’s why immigration to this country is so great. That’s why the “American Dream” is still alive, decades and even centuries after it was born. Though we have stumbled, made terrible mistakes throughout our history we, should we choose, change our ways and repair our errors.
We have, finally, elected a black man to the presidency. And, as John McCain said in his concession speech (where the John McCain I remember re-emerged), the “American people have spoken and they have spoken clearly.”
And that gives me hope. Though I was always proud of my country, the idea of America, today I am proud to be an American. And, as political and sentimental as the catch-phrase has become, I honestly can think of no better way to explain America – no matter what happens, no matter what road we travel down, no matter what mistakes we make, we can always change ourselves, better ourselves and better the world.
Yes we can.