My Fellow Americans —
As I write this, most of you are no doubt counting the hours until the long holiday weekend. I am sure you are preoccupied with travel plans and dreading the drive to the beach or the lake or the mountains. I am sure you are looking forward to hanging out with family and friends. I have no doubt you are also looking forward to pool parties, parades, barbecues, and fireworks.
As I write this, I am pondering the wisdom of writing a “political” blog on my business site, especially given the political climate in the United States these days. To do so would be professional suicide.
So it’s a good thing this has absolutely nothing to do with politics. It has to do with us.
You see the true measure of American greatness has nothing to do with Donald Trump — or Hillary Clinton, for that matter. It has nothing to do with Bernie Sanders or anyone else who wants to be president. It has nothing to do with who is in the White House or who is in Congress or who is in charge of each state.
It has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats, or liberals or conservatives. It doesn’t matter if our leaders are progressives or populists. It has nothing to do any political label or political philosophy.
The true measure of American greatness lies in its people. It lies in each and every one of us. Whether we like it or not. Whether we care to admit it or not.
We The People Of The United States…
The undeniable link between American greatness and its people can be traced through history. In fact, it can be traced to a time before the United States as we know it even existed.
It can be traced back to the time when a bunch of colonists, fed up with British tyranny and oppression, decided to do something about it. They decided to fight back.
In the Declaration of Independence, dated July 4, 1776, they said:
“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 these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed (emphasis added), — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People (emphasis added) to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
A similar sentiment is conveyed in the Preamble to our Constitution, which reads:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Note how these documents are written. They do not begin with “We, the leaders of the United States of America.” Nor do they say anything about “we, the politicians of the United States of America.”
Gee, I wonder why?
Together, We Can Make America Great Again
But seriously, putting all sarcasm and snarfiness aside, what does this really mean?
In the simplest terms, it means that as Americans we are in charge of our own destiny. It also means that our future will be shaped not by the decisions our leaders make, but the key decisions we all make every day. They are:
- How to react to hateful political rhetoric
- Whether to embrace politicians that engage in hateful rhetoric
- How to handle our political differences
- Whether to let those differences tear us apart
- How to regard compromise (as a sign of strength or weakness)
- How to react to the things we don’t understand
- How to react to the things that scare us
- How to handle disagreements
- How to express ourselves
- Whether to exercise our right to vote
- Whether to do our due diligence so we are fully informed when we cast our ballots
- Whether to let the mainstream media, educators and pop culture dictate what we think
- Whether to let others dictate how we behave
When all is said and done, what we choose to do determines not only how others view us, but how we see ourselves. After all, it is easy to blame our leaders for everything that is wrong with our country. It is much harder to look in the mirror.