July 05, 2003

Happy Fourth of July, America

I was pondering patrotism today on a drive home. I saw someone else with a flag on their car -- those ridiculous magnetic flags that every car these days seems to carry on their back bumper -- and was once again incensed.

For a few seconds, I was mad and thought some very anti-American thoughts. And then I realized suddenly, that I don't *hate* America, and started to ask myself why I'd suddenly started thinking that way.

Part of it is, I'm a natural rebel. Let's face it, I'm the kind of guy who's suspect of anything labeled "common sense", "traditional", or "the smart thing". So patriotism, especially patrotism from knee-jerk super-patriots who believe that people such as myself don't deserve to live (kiss kiss to you, Ann Coulter), hits me in a sore spot.

And dammit, it shouldn't.

I'm not against the country. I like fireworks. I like the 4th. I like speaking my mind, being able to write, I don't mind capitalism all that much. (I hate corporations, but that's a whole 'nother story). My country, for all it's faults, is pretty OK.

It's just that a bunch of jerks -- greedy, self-centered, corrupt jerks -- now own the country. And for a long time, that flag I brooded over today is a symbol of the country that these jerks have owned for most of my life, and still own today.

I'm a liberal. I'm also an American; I own the flag too. I want to get this country going in a direction that's right for all -- and am willing to help it go that direction if I can. That makes me a patriot.

Can you be a liberal and a patriot as well? Yes. As a matter of fact, liberals are much more patriotic than those hyper-conservative super-patriots. Liberalism is about insisting the voices of those who are not often heard, be heard (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, the poor, the homeless, etc). We're about enforcing our liberties (ACLU). We're about protecting those natural resources which are not replaceable (environmentalism). We're about making the laws fair for all, and apply equally to all.

We liberals need to go out, and reinvent patriotism. We need to understand that patriotism is not about being a conservative. It's about creating a country that is by *all* the people, for *all* the people, and made up of *all* the people -- not by a few, for a few, made up of a few. Liberals need to re-take the flag and say that this is our country as well; and that we should not have to live as if this country were someone else's to own, and that we live here at their sufferage.

Happy 4th, America. I'm glad you're here, and I hope you can become great again.

Posted by Ted Stevko at July 5, 2003 12:05 AM