As a lad, philosophical debates were very much encouraged in our home. By philosophical, I do not mean to say that we delve deeply into Aristotelian or Freudian philosophies. Rather, my father inculcated in us the need to have opinions and to respectfully, but actively, partake in intellectual discourse. To do that, one needed to stay abreast of ongoing, but meaningful, discussions. Thus, learning the impact of policies on the immediate or long-term prospects of nations was usually a point of departure.
The United States was (and continues to be) a good case study because the global consensus was that it is a beacon of hope that shines the brightest with respect to economic opportunity and freedom. Not surprisingly, many immigrants aspire to start anew here. They recognize that through hard work it’s possible to have dignity (even with little to no education) where none existed in their native land. After all, it is here immigrants hope to realize the American Dream, all the while supporting relatives abroad. It is here stands the Statue of Liberty which symbolizes freedom. And, it is here the Founding Fathers drafted what is now dubbed the “immortal declaration”: All men are created equal.
In world history class—nearly 1900 miles from the United States—we learned about such esteemed individuals as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. We also learned about other civil rights leaders like Harriett Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, William Garrison and Frederick Douglass. Reading the history one can glean that politics (however tainted the profession), at least for those who were invested in representing the People, wasn’t something to be scorned, rather an admirable civic duty. Those who aspired to serve the People from a position of power, it was gleaned, only did so because they were moved to action for noble causes.
Today, divisive politics reign supreme and many politicians are quick to ditch the not so noble title (which is unfortunate). Moreover, they continue to draw the ire of dissidents even as partisanship have led to political gridlock. The rhetoric about so-called “career politicians” have reached a fever pitch in recent US elections. It argues that such politicians, having been reelected, have stopped listening to the People. In a democratic state, progress can be slow but civility can ratchet up the debate about the country’s ailments so as to allocate resources where needed.
The United States is great because free speech, separation of powers, and the rule of law are all grounded in American dogma. Indeed, no matter which political party led the nation, no one would be above the law, the Founding Fathers reasoned. And even as the two major parties jostle for position on Capitol Hill or scramble to find common ground (though not always in the most civil way) the Constitution is in place to avert a complete shutdown.
American politicians aren’t perfect. However, when leading by example, they entice fellow citizens to partake in the political process. They seek to promulgate citizenry in prosperous and tumultuous times. They welcome differing viewpoints which can empower one another to seek ironclad solutions to tough problems like fiscal responsibility, national security, and job growth. They reject wanton disregard for the human condition and hateful rhetoric that slows progress. And, long before the cameras were rolling they were genuinely interested—through actions—in promoting democracy.
The American politician appreciates the land from which democracy springs to life. That the flag flaps proudly no matter where the wind blows. Finally, whatever the season, its soil is primed for inclusion and growth—with “liberty and justice for all”.