40 minutes ago
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Can Hope Bring Progress?
I just watched "Right America: Feeling Wronged," an HBO documentary by Alexandra Pelosi. If the name sounds familiar, it should - she is the daughter of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a democrat from California.
The description of the program read, "A documentary filmmaker talks with social conservatives, many of whom were very much opposed to the election of Barack Obama as president, on their feelings about the future of our nation now that he has taken the oath of office."
What the description should have read was, "A documentary filmmaker talks with rednecks, racists, religious fanatics and the right wing fringe in an effort to further political stereotyping and create a more divisive gap within America's two party system."
In 2009, America is a country defined by two things: Our past and our hope for the future. And why not? Who in their right mind would want to be defined by our present? We are a nation divided at every front, and a nation where division is introduced at an early age, encouraged throughout our youth, and embraced in adulthood.
No? Introduce me to an elementary school where the pudgy kid with glasses is picked first in kickball. Where the awkward girl with braces gets as much positive attention from boys as her doe-eyed classmate. Where it doesn't matter what kind of clothes you wear, what holiday you celebrate, or what kind of house you live in.
Find me a high school where the football coach tells his players that they're no better than the math team, and where cheerleaders want to date the guys on the debate team. How about a city that isn't divided by color and nationality? A Boston Red Sox fan who doesn't hate the New York Yankees?
Or maybe a democrat that has a single productive thing to say about a republican. Or vice versa. Politics are just another sickening example that we are a country bred to divide.
And that's what's wrong with America today.
It used to be The Cold War. The United States of America verses the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Russia was the bad guy, and it was us against them.
Now we don't have a common foe. We have nobody to unite against, so we unite against each other, and fueled by politics we have become more divided than ever before. Sure, we rallied against terrorism for a while, but as soon as the memories of 9/11 faded away, so did our united spirit of patriotism.
We live in a nation where it's the democrats verses the republicans. Blue verses red. Right verses left. Us verses them. You have to choose a side, because anything else is a wasted vote.
It doesn't need to be that way, and it shouldn't be that way. The United States was never built to be a two-party system, but it evolved into that as the political machine realized that the fewer choices people had, the less power people had.
But the real question isn't how much power we have as a people, it's what power we have as a people. Right now, we have the power to stay focused on the task at hand: Making America a better place tomorrow than it is today.
If every American embraced that responsibility, it wouldn't matter that the bulk of our elected officials are more concerned with political biases than they are with what's best for our population. On Capitol Hill, it's about advancing agenda over advancing change. From our vantage point, we just have to cross our fingers that the agenda is working for us, not against us.
As a people, we have to be bigger than the politicians who are blinded by partisanship, and smarter than the public who think that being a democrat or a republican makes you right or wrong.
Before we can hope for progress, we need to have faith in ourselves. Because if we can't have faith in ourselves, who will?
My brain tells me that the recently approved economic recovery package is flawed, but my heart wants me to be believe that the spirit of the package can prevail.
I'm not one to attack a problem with touchy-feely sensibilities, but we're faced by a problem that needs more than legislation. We're faced by a country so torn and divided, we need to mend its core before we can build for the future.
Are more food stamps, increased unemployment benefits, freezing foreclosures and a few extra dollars in every working man's pocket going to fix the problems that are inherent in our infrastructure? No, this country needs more than a cosmetic touch-up. But if they give the average American hope to feel like they can matter in the scheme of change, we might actually be onto something.
And that will be one hell of an accomplishment, because progress has to start somewhere...