On this Fourth of July, I'm pledging my allegiance once again to the idea of a country endlessly in a state of becoming. It’s a country that ceaselessly measures its actions, achievements, and failures against the remarkable ideals embedded in the founding documents. It’s a country that understands that “government” comprises the tools we use when we work together to improve the lives of all the people. It’s a country that is clear-eyed about its failures and determined to do better.
That idea is symbolized in a flag that shows these 50 states bound together into one nation, each of us responsible for protecting each other and lifting each other up. My flag doesn’t call to some mythical lost “greatness”. It calls to the Freedom Riders, Brown vs Board of Education, the Great Society. It represents a country of rainbow flags, ranches, bodegas, truck stops, temples, mosques, and churches. It flies for a country that practiced genocide against its indigenous populations but now has a Pueblo woman as the Secretary of the Interior; a country still grappling with the poison of slavery but which now has a woman of color as the Vice President and a Black woman newly installed as a justice of the Supreme Court. Pick your own set of inspiring examples – there’s dozens right in your own town.
The forces of reaction are in the ascendent these days. These foundational ideas are under attack from many who hold elective office. In order to protect those ideals and the journey that we must be on, the most important thing to be done now is to insure that Congress remains with the Democrats. To that I end, I'm also pledging a minimum of $5,000 in this election cycle, given to key races that can make the difference. I can’t do anything about Alabama, but I can help defeat Ron Johnson in Wisconsin, re-elect Mark Kelly in Arizona, support John Fetterman in Pennsylvania. Over the next month, as the primaries finish up, I’ll be watching closely to try to identify those races where I think my contributions can do the most good. If you have money, give money. If you are in a state where there are critical elections and you have time, give time. Getting the vote out in those states is essential and the candidates can always use more volunteers.
I grew up in the 60s and 70s when even though I knew how often my country fell short of its ideals I never really thought those ideas could fail. The last five years has shown us just how fragile the American experiment is. I know that many people who have loved the America that I love feel shell-shocked and hopeless. But we don’t have time to be discouraged. The fight isn’t over. I’m not giving up.