I still have faith in our American experiment.
To a desperate eye, yes, it could look grim. The U.S. is among the world’s richest nations, but American infants are three times more likely to die than in 19 similar OECD countries. The U.S. is failing to protect its poor people, i.e., most of us, while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Our nation is home to extreme poverty, homelessness and a lack of basic healthcare. The maternal death rate in America is rising, and the U.S. is the only country among OECD nations with that grim distinction. Some 75% of Americans are unable to name the three branches of government. Some 25% of Americans are unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The executive branch of government is a dismal failure and can hardly be considered a functioning entity, i.e., it cannot accomplish its stated goals. The federal legislature (bicameral), trying to pass laws to fix problems, is being stopped by the Senate (the upper body), the Department of Justice, and the federal judiciary, especially the current Supreme Court. Senators (in the upper body), the head of the Justice Department, and the Supreme Court prevent the House (the lower body) from exercising its Constitutional duty of oversight to keep abuse of power and corruption in check, and the executive branch starts wars all by itself. The executive branch also then overrules the military’s own internal justice system. There is no money being allocated to rebuild bridges, schools, hospitals or research facilities, let alone public funding for the arts. The U.S. is still at war in Afghanistan and Iraq, no end in sight, and Americans cannot even travel to the EU or to Canada: they are barred, for they are likely infected. In sum, America cannot, will not, and does not lift a finger to protect the American people; so, yes, it could certainly look grim to a desperate eye.
However, I still have faith in the American experiment.
I have faith in this great American experiment of ours for three reasons: our morals, our demographics, and our corporations.
First — in terms of morals — those students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, give me faith. I stand with them. Also, I am inspired by the work of Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the International Refugee Assistance Project, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Trevor Project, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and other such august bodies. These are all moral forces for good; forces for social progress, to improve humanity. For that, I have faith.
Second — in terms of demographics — I have faith in immigrants and in the young. Almost all of our ancestors came here by boat, or by plane nowadays, and we come together, us tempest-tost, here in this City on a Hill to create a new community. También tengo fe en esos millones de estadounidenses que hablan español o algún otro idioma en casa, y luego recurren al inglés cuando están fuera de casa. I have faith in Millennials, and in the way businesses will change to cater to their tastes. Also, concerning youth, I have faith that the young will not put up with the Way Things Are, and I have faith that they will change the world for the better: I see this on the news every night. As Whitney Houston hummed, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.” She was right. The kids are all right. For that, I have faith.
Third, and finally — in terms of corporations — I have faith in large, well-run U.S. companies that are sensitive to social changes and that will withdraw their advertising from tainted platforms. I have faith in U.S. financial regulation that will help maintain liquid and efficient markets, and that will punish criminals, liars and sleazy sales staff. I have faith in the U.S. legal system and federal prosecutors who uncover graft, theft and nepotism. I have faith in U.S. creativity: its new screenplays, its music, its writing; and the ability to monetize those creations so as to give artists a thriving life. I have faith in small business owners and the communities that shop there. I have faith in family-run enterprises and my neighborhood restaurant. I also have faith in Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (and Microsoft, too), the wondrous services they provide to us all, and I reciprocally have faith in the federal government that it will heavily regulate those four and bust up any trusts that begin to monopolize markets. American creativity harnessed to American business & technology is a mighty force, a great font of art & wondrousness. For that, I have faith.
So for those three reasons — morals, demographics, and corporations — I still have faith in the U.S. experiment. For everyone from Akron and Albuquerque all the way to Yonkers and Yuma, yes, for sure, we are all sharing a dark corner of the American experiment these days, but our community will prevail.
So take my hand on this Fourth of July, take my hand and embrace your neighbor, and let us sing together.
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me!
Happy July 4! Let’s have a hot dog.