It is not the first time that my patriotism has been called into question for being liberal. However Governor Palin’s recent comments caught me in a vulnerable moment. On the cusp of casting what may be the most important vote of my lifetime, I have never felt more proud to be an American citizen. And yet, with a mere two weeks left in the campaign, my party and my beliefs may be deemed yet again as un-American. And I think it’s time I stand up for myself as a proud citizen of this country.
We believe the best of Amierica is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and goodness and courage of everyday Americans.
Governor Palin said these words at a fund-raiser in North Carolina recently. Now, I would not argue that those she was speaking to were, in fact, ”American”. But those folks at the fundraiser were certainly no more American than the families living here in the suburbs of Florida, or the Burroughs of New York City, or even on the icy plains of her own State of Alaska. Assuming that one group of citizens are “more” American than another is simply ridiculous. But her speech comes across as one more undeserved swipe at citizens who don’t fit into a certain narrow ideal of “Americanism”. In fact, liberal citizens (such as myself) have become quite used to questions about our patriotism. And raise your hand if you’ve heard the mumbled implication that you might be (cue the disgusted sneer on the accusers face): a communist. What is UP with this?
Throughout my life, I have continued an American tradition of sorts, something my forefathers did before me: I question those in authority. It is my right to do this and I consider it about as American as apple pie. And while I may have disagreed with certain politicians or some of their policies, I have never faltered in my own confidence as an American. Sure, I didn’t grow up in small town U.S.A. (I lived abroad in High School) or attend a senior prom or date a Joe Six-pack type. But I am still American, right? My perspective and background have just added to that whole “melting pot” idea, right? And as for questioning those leading this country - well, isn’t that the beauty of being American? As a democratic nation, I can question, I can express myself, I can be whomever I want to be here. God Bless this place, for real.
After September 11th, our country became very afraid and for good reason. We had been attacked and thousands of innocent people lost their lives. But the fear and hate which sprung from this attack has been frightening to witness. As the years passed and war was waged, the message was very clear: “You are either with us, or against us”. If I didn’t agree with the war, the policies of the current administration or my President: I was considered un-American. During these past few years, my American round peg has not exactly fit into this very limited, short-sighted variety of patritotic square hole. Our country’s definition of “Americanness” should not remain so simplified or single minded any longer.
I am a liberal American. I believe in equal and human rights in a democratic nation. I believe in protecting the limited resources on our planet and in our country – not destroying them. I believe in freedom of speech of every form – not intimidated silence. I believe in the right to vote, as a collective nation, to determine our leader – never denying any citizen this opporitunity. I believe in the unique diversity of this country – not polarized sameness, or fear of the unknown. I believe that all citizens, of every background, are in fact 100% American – no matter how I much I may agree or disagree with them.
Early voting has begun in many states around this country. It is time for our nation to excerise it’s right to choose it’s own leader. In the spirit of a new, redefined and multi-faceted brand of patriotism, please go out and do the most “American” thing you can do right now: vote. Let’s see what the “real” America is all about.