|Photo by Heidi Haines, April 4, 2016|
We've seen a Congress that is deadlocked, simply to keep a duly-elected President from any success on the part of the people. We've seen the race-baiting and incendiary speech of the right make blatant racist remarks acceptable again, and sexism rears its ugly head to discredit the good work of a candidate, based solely on her gender. And while we have made huge strides in the way our LGBTQ brothers and sisters being granted the rights they deserve, the GOP continues to pass laws to codify discrimination over the most ridiculous and nonsensical issues. (Bathrooms? Really???)
So what have we got to celebrate today? With all that is wrong with our nation, is there still reason to be optimistic? As I watched the best Fourth of July movie EVER with my son this morning, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, I realized that, despite all the schmaltz and idealism in the classic film, there is still actually reason to believe in this grand experiment. Despite all the bullpucky on Capitol Hill, and the GOP fight to divide us with fear over any way that we are different, there is actually still reason to believe in this small-d democracy of ours.
The host of the classic movie related a little bit of the film's history. At the time it was released, there was a premiere screening at the National Press Club. Senators and other lawmakers were invited to attend the Jimmy Stewart film that sends a regular guy to D.C., only to be disillusioned by the corruption he finds there (spoiler alert: don't worry, it's a very satisfying, all-American ending). Apparently, there was much unease among the Senators during the screening, much squirming in their seats and outrage...the film hit far too close to home for these guys as Mr. Smith calls them out on their lies, backroom deals and self-interest. Mr. Smith was decried as unpatriotic, anti-American, and unrealistic. "Why, no one in Washington would ever dream of acting in their own best interest over the will of the people!" Many stormed out of the screening, decrying the injustice of it all. Sound familiar, anyone? The old white man doth protest too much!
When we look at the reaction of those Senators, it rings all-too familiar with what we see today. Even in 1939, filling one's own pockets on the backs of citizens wasn't new. But you know what else isn't new? The Mr. Smiths of this world. Fighters for what's right, throughout history, are an American staple. We still have good people like Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Hillary Clinton and many others fighting for American families and the middle class. And theyr'e not the only ones. It's simple acts by you and I, such as taking our kids with us to the polls to instill democratic values, or my Little Man, no longer the tiny boy he was when I started this blog (16 now, 6'3" and still growing), asking how he can volunteer at the polls. It's the difference of opinion that my daughter and I have, choosing candidates that reflect our generations, but still able to respect each other's choice. And it's the faces of the students I accompanied to D.C. as they saw our founding documents for the first time, knowing they will be an active part of our democracy when they're grown. It's our fellow citizens and Dreamers' families fighting for immigration reform, or protestors continuing to keep the importance #BlackLivesMatter in the news until change is made, or LGBT families and friends attending Pride despite threats and hatred, these are the reasons we celebrate. It is our shared idealism, the faith that we have as a people, big actors and small on the American stage, that gives us reason to believe. We celebrate the efforts of our founding fathers today, and those who have fought, and those who continue to fight to make our democracy strong. And as long as we all continue to do our part in this grand experiment, we have every reason to believe that it will continue to be the greatest democracy on earth, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Politicos. Relax, enjoy and revel in the rights and freedoms in which we are privileged to share, and continue to fulfill the responsibilities and hard work that we share as well in these United States. Here's a shot for you from the kids' D.C. trip this year. Enjoy!
|Photo by Heidi Haines, April 4, 2016|
Why are you still optimistic about our democracy, my fellow Politicos? Please join the conversation and post comments below!