Monday, April 7, 2008

Actual Patriotism: The Audacity of Higher Standards

Barack Obama's patriotism is what actual patriotism sounds like:

I love this country not because it’s perfect, but because we’ve always been able to move it closer to perfection. Because through revolution and slavery; war and depression; great battles for civil rights and women’s rights and worker’s rights, generations of Americans have shown their love of country by struggling and sacrificing and risking their lives to bring us that much closer to our founding promise. And as long as I live, I will never forget that I am only standing here because they did.

This is a country where my grandfather signed up to defend after Pearl Harbor and my grandmother sacrificed on a bomber assembly line – a country that thanked this small-town Kansas couple with a college education and a chance to raise my mother in a home of their own.

It’s a country where the letters and prayers of my father were answered – a young Kenyan who wanted nothing more than the chance to study in a magical place called America.

It’s a country where the improbable love of my parents was actually possible; where my mother could raise me without much money but still send me to the best schools in the nation; a country where I’ve seen hope triumph in neighborhoods that were devastated by joblessness and poverty; where I’ve seen ordinary Americans find justice in a courtroom; where I’ve seen progress made for working families who need leaders who are willing to stand up and fight for them.

That is the country I love. That is the promise of America.
This is patriotism grounded in concrete particulars that range in scope from the quietly personal to the grandly historical. It's not a bumper sticker, nor is it the waving of an oversized novelty #1 finger. It encompasses both ideals and reality.

This form of patriotism will never reach or satisfy the knuckle-draggers who won't see past flag pins, but part of the audacity of hope is the audacity of higher standards.

Americans should stand up and refuse to be the dupes of fake patriotism and the tools of tribalistic inanity.


1 comment:

Sis B said...


This is why I like him so very much.