There have been times when I have not been proud to be American. Every person knows there are trying days when our nation’s image, history, and reputation are at stake when we each choose to express our displeasure in different ways. Not being proud is a mild expression of annoyance, and like every personal expression, thankfully protected by our First Amendment freedoms.
However, today is one of the few times in my rational adult life that I am more than simply ‘not proud.’ Today, I hang my head in shame as a citizen of the United States, its leadership, and the values and ideals it has come to represent.
Thinking back, America used to be a place where men, women, and children from around the globe listened for the call…the invitation to join the experiment in democracy, in individuality, in freedoms and fairness. It was a vast land of myriad opportunities and adventures to be earned in sweat, tears, and love of a nation and neighbor.
From Colonial times to Westward expansion, in the past, our nation was a place where people with unflattering Irish names like McConnell, Ryan, and Collins turned to for a fresh start despite the prejudice of their heritage. The United States was the country where Mukowskis and Enzis fled to and rose above the persecution and oppression over Polish or Italian surnames. It was a place where immigrant many families with alien sounding names like Rubio found refuge and safe harbor. An American family named Graham scraped together their pennies and struggled to run a family restaurant and bar to support their children. Finally, the young nation was a fertile ground where a family with a once too-German last name could change a few letters in Drumpf and forge a family empire.
That was the America to be proud of before today.
It was not long ago that America represented a country built and sustained by the many challenged instead of the privileged few. The flame of hope in Lady Liberty’s torch died in a puff of smoke on Friday night as America’s elitist politicians forgot their roots and passed a new tax bill like thugs in a dirty alleyway.
Neither the government nor its leaders own the great country called the United States of America, no matter how often and vehemently they flex their fortunate financial muscles to imply otherwise. This nation is owned by the people who built it — by those who suffered with their blood, sweat, and tears.
Our country is a homogenous conglomerate of dedication, values, and the kind of personal investment the likes of which Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump can never imagine or touch. They may have their money and their tax bill, but they will never have the heart of the nation — gilt in either gold on a shelf or dead in their grimy cold hands.
The heart of America belongs to those of us who bleed our patriotism in ink and First Amendment currencies. The spirit of the nation lives on in the idea that the many shall return America to the values that built her and the Republicans’ America, Inc. will flounder in moral bankruptcy.
Featured Image: The Washington Post