We hold these truths to be self-evident…

History has proven them to be anything but.

If we genuinely care about this ‘grand experiment’ in democracy, we must actively participate in it.

We must take action and we must vote to ensure everyone feels they are represented by those who put life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness above everything else.

This past Tuesday was our primary election day in Illinois, and the picture I chose for this blog was purposeful.  Sadly, the turnout for this important event was abysmally low.

Since declaring our independence, we’ve always been trying to ‘form a more perfect Union’, despite a rocky start and diversions along the way.

While many of us revere the writings of the Founders, they were not perfect men, nor did they live in perfect times, nor did they have the experiences and access to knowledge that many of us take for granted today.

What they did have was a vision for a more perfect Union.  The framework for our Constitution goes back to our Independence Day. I urge each and every one of you to read the words of that Declaration again today.  It wouldn’t hurt to read our Constitution again, either.

Here are links to both: Declaration of Independence: A Transcription | National Archives & The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription | National Archives

For years, I’ve celebrated our Independence Day with all the pomp and circumstance the Framers intended.  As I got older, I learned more about Americans who did not feel that they’ve achieved the ideals set forth on July 4, 1776. These groups continued to be marginalized for decades and centuries after, even to this present day.

Today, a new group of our citizens is feeling that same disenfranchisement.

Those ‘truths’ Jefferson found to be self-evident, were anything but.

For those who thrust this concept of “originalism” as a justification for abridging rights, this is not what America stands for.  It never has.

“I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.”

Thomas Jefferson

Our focus has always been forward, on achieving what the Founding Fathers could not or would not do.   If we genuinely care about this ‘grand experiment’ in democracy, we must actively participate in it.

When government no longer represents the governed, when citizens no longer have body autonomy, when one Right infringes on the safety and welfare of any American, we must stand up, we must act.

Change does not happen because of thoughts and prayers, marches and chants, or social media posts. Change happens by voting.

Voting in every election, not just the Presidential elections.  In every Local and State election, your voice needs to be heard.  The power to elect those who can make change in our laws is given to every single American citizen over the age of eighteen. 

So today, you can have your BBQ and your fireworks, or you can have your protests and parades, but between now and November you must educate yourself beyond what your TV or your Party tell you, you must register, and you must vote.

Governing isn’t about appeasing special interests; it is about representing the entirety of your constituency. 

The time for partisan politics and winning at all costs is long past.

We all hope for a better tomorrow and that change will come, but hope is not a plan.

Take action.  Vote as if your future depends on it.

Just as it did in 1776, your actions can change the course of this Nation and bring us to where ALL of us are equal, all have the same Rights and responsibilities, and all feel represented by those who put life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness above everything else.

I will still celebrate our independence today, not to honor the past, but for the opportunity to create a better future and a more perfect Union.

July 4, 2020

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

“It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more”

John Adams

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson

I have written several times that the 4th of July is my favorite holiday.

The words, the ideals, written in the Declaration of Independence inspired the birth of a new nation, extolling a government of the People.  A government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed.

I celebrate excitedly each July; the Grand Experiment in democracy…the birth of the United States.

For as much as we can admire the Founding Fathers, they were not without flaws.  They were not asking us to idolize them, or even emulate them; they were asking us to believe in them, in the ideas and actions that would change the world. 

“They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country.  They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.”

Frederick Douglass

These conditions do not have to be binary. 

We can look to the past with a critical eye, but together we have an opportunity to create a better future.

While the American Dream has been good to me, Jefferson’s truths have not been so self-evident for everyone.  Equality has been only a dream for too many for too long.  We’ve struggled as a nation to live up to those ideals.  We’ve fought, both in courts and on battlefields, for or against equal rights, and equal justice, for all. 

That history is just as much a part of our present as it is our past.

244 years later, we still struggle with discrimination; in race, religion, gender, sexuality, and much more. 

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Edmund Burke

Not only is it incumbent upon us to listen, to learn, and to educate, we have to respect our differences.

Ours is a nation of diversity, of disparity, but it shouldn’t be one of inequity and inequality.

We cannot feign respect for our flag, for our country, without showing respect for each other.

For all those who have fought, and continue to fight, for freedom, liberty, justice, and equality, I am grateful for your passion, commitment, and service.

I celebrate today, with pride and patriotism.  Not blindly, but respectfully, not just to the past, but for tomorrow.  The America I celebrate is the shining city upon a hill, where we teach history based not on what’s in fashion but what’s important, where everyone lives in freedom and equality. It has been only a dream for far too long. Join me in working towards making it a reality. Our celebrations will be that much more meaningful when we can truly share them with everyone.

We are more the same than we are different

today, instead of just expressing anger, fear, and confusion, reach out to someone who isn’t like you; learn something new

Terribly saddened by the events of the past days and weeks, not just in the United States, but around the world.
Yet in all the expressions of outrage, and even in words of comfort, we continue to build the barriers that cause all this hatred.
Instead of defining each other by our differences, let’s remember our common bonds.  Stop separating us and them, blue and black, Muslim and Christian, Jew and Gentile,  liberal and conservative.  In the United States, we are all Americans.  We don’t need to create separate classes based on ethnicity, religion, color, or anything else.  American is enough.  Stop the passive distrust caused by breaking us apart.   American lives matter.  All lives matter.
The same is true around the world.  Why must we focus on where we differ, when there is so much that ties us together.
Do we not all occupy the same planet, breathe the same air, bleed the same blood, and fight the same diseases?  These are human conditions, not unique to any continent, country, or civilization.
Take a moment to reflect not just on these recent tragedies, but how you react to them.  What you say and do has a tremendous effect on how you are perceived by others, and how they are perceived, as well.
If we all have a little empathy and understanding, the world would be a better place.  I’d rather listen and learn, than continue to fight based on meaningless words.   I matter, just like you.
So today, instead of just expressing anger, fear, and confusion, reach out to someone who isn’t like you;  learn something new, discuss ideas, embrace differences, create a new friendship, and make the world a better place.

Today I mourn

Today, I mourn.  I grieve.  I ache for those lives senselessly taken.
My sadness goes further than Orlando.; deeper than the LGBT community.
I cry for America.
Today’s horrific tragedy is not a political issue.  It is not a 2nd Amendment issue.  It is not a lifestyle issue.  This is an American issue; it is a human issue.
This could have happened at a mall, or a preschool, or a church, or an office, or a public pool, or any gathering of peaceful people living under the umbrella of freedom that we all treasure.
Yet we allow hateful speech to become part of our everyday news.  We allow shootings to be so commonplace that it’s not until a ‘mass shooting’ takes place that we take notice.  We allow violence to prevail; racism to be tolerated; rapes to be justified; inaction to be considered progress; and individuals to be grouped together and marginalized as lesser in our society.
Today, I mourn.  For those who lost a friend or loved one in Orlando, words will never adequately express my sympathies.  Despite the anger we feel, we must resolve to work together to better our society, to further our common goals and interests.   We must remember that all lives are created equal,  and that we are endowed with certain unalienable Rights; that among them are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Today, we must continue to look forward, and pledge not revenge, not divisiveness, but collaboration.  Despite our differences, we remain strongest when we are united.  Whether this evil is foreign or domestic, there is no room in our world for intolerance or inaction.  Every life holds value, and our Rights must never be abridged. Today we must stand together again as the United States of America.
We Stand With Orlando

We need more than an American Dream, we must have an American Plan.

I long for an America that doesn’t exist.
An America where all law-abiding citizens are treated equally and respectfully, regardless of age, race, religion, skin color, wealth or income, sexual preference, gender, or any of the many diverse things that make us unique.
An America where those who break the law are given due process in a judicial system that is fair and swift.  Where we can rehabilitate those who have transgressed our laws and provide a path towards rejoining society.
An America where we look out for each other; care for our injured, our sick, our weak, our young and our elderly.  Where health is not a hope, but a basic right, and where no one should struggle for the care they need and deserve.
An America that truly believes in education.  Where our children, and their children, can grow and learn and compete on a global scale.  Where we encourage learning and reward those who teach and teach well.
An America where no one goes hungry.  Where we don’t subsidize farmers to not grow crops, or where we export foods before we utilize them for ourselves.  Where those who work can afford to put food on their table, and where those who can’t are cared for.
An America where we can feel safe and secure in our homes, our jobs, our schools, our parks, and in our streets.  Where police have the tools and staff to protect and serve, and where our military has the intelligence and the might to keep us safe.
We need more than an American Dream, we must have an American Plan.
I long for an America that can exist.  Let us be united in making it happen.