It’s been a long time but tonight I’m proud.  My heart is full.   It’s as if, suddenly, the real America has decided to stop being afraid of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and come out from the shadows of division, degradation and hate and gleefully embrace all that Democrats, liberals and progressives stand for.  It’s been an electrifying week where speaker after speaker took on racism, religious intolerance, inequality, identity politics and conservatives.  It was a glorious tribute to what the terms “Democratic" and "Liberal" actually mean: “believing that government should be active in supporting social and political change; relating to or supporting political liberalism; not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.”

This week’s Democratic Convention reminded me of what it really means to be an American.  Reminded me of why I, along with thousands of other young Americans at the time, heeded President John F. Kennedy’s call for government service by joining the Peace Corps.  It was the early 1970’s and America was truly that “shining nation on the hill,” a beacon of liberty, equality, justice and hope to the rest of the world.  It didn’t matter that our Government's policies were often at odds with what the U.S. represented to the world, our misadventures in Viet Nam and Latin America, for example. Every place I went I was welcomed with open, friendly and admiring arms (and one memorable night, with several quarts of Ghanaian Gold Arrow beer in Accra’s White Star Hotel) and I knew that I was representing not only me, personally, but the best of what America had to offer to every human being on the planet.

So much has changed since then.  We’ve gone from celebrating immigrants (my mother) as the very threads that bind the patchwork of America’s multi-colored, sometimes raggedy, national quilt together to demeaning immigrants as the cause of America’s so-called demise.   Used to be that the American Dream was alive and well, lived and achieved by countless folks through hard work, perseverance and a helping hand from the rest of us to accepting that the success of working and middle class families really don’t matter.  We’ve travelled from believing that Civil Rights – equality for all – was our primary goal, to squelching the rights of the downtrodden and the “others” not like me or you, to making it harder for minorities, the elderly, the disabled from exercising that most precious of all rights, the right to vote.    

It’s not that there weren’t deep divisions in American society thirty years ago.  There were.  America was divided in so many ways – segregationists vs. integrationists; Whites versus Blacks; wildly vocal hippies verses Nixon’s Silent Majority; Young versus Old; in fact, not so unfamiliar were the divisions back then when compared to today.  But back then, no Presidential candidate dared promote divisiveness, class warfare, the fanning of racial strife, separateness, misogyny, and nativism without risking defeat.  George Wallace tried and failed.  Barry Goldwater tried and failed.   More recently, Pat Buchanan tried and failed. What’s changed, is that for decades now, Conservatives, Republicans, the Tea Party and right wingers have actively promoted these divisions to the point where their view of America seems like some perverse Dorian Gray painting that has morphed into a hate-filled, violence crammed, Dante’s Hell of a country.  It's not who we are. 

The entire week of the Democratic Convention – whether intentionally or not – was devoted to reversing this picture of a hate-filled, divided, murderous America and restoring what we used to proudly and loudly proclaim were the uniquely American values embedded in our Founding Documents:  God given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; equal rights for everyone; fair treatment under the law; the inviolate dignity inherent in every human being no matter the color of one's skin, no matter what one's national original, no matter which ethnic background, no matter what religion people might practice.  

Hillary’s speech, the speech of her life, was pitch perfect.  She not only “knocked it out of the park,” she knocked it around the world for all the world to see.  To proclaim and to judge us in what we, as Americans, believe in.  It was not only an amazing and direct challenge to Trump and the Republicans but a reassertion of what it means to be an American.  Re-attaches us to our own profound egalitarian beliefs, our own values of compassion, cooperation, togetherness, and a deep rooted pride and honor in our country.  It was the opening salvo in the long road ahead towards healing America, to counteracting the corrosive efforts and effects of three decades of hate, to re-igniting the flame of true patriotism, not the cheap, knock off variety we've been treated to for years, and coming to grips and addressing long simmering problems that have been ignored for so long.

As liberals and progressives, we have been for far too long disrespected, we’ve been trashed, we've been subjected to the vituperative attacks from the so-called "Real American Patriots" on the right.
We’ve been whipsawed and bludgeoned by the conservative hate-rhetoric that bears no resemblance to what we are or to what we believe in and what we want as Americans for America.  Finally, it seems that the Democratic Establishment has understood what "Occupy Wall Street," and "Black Live Matter," and Elizabeth Warren and, yes, what Bernie Sanders and the Millennials have been saying.   Finally, Democrats “get it.”  

We’ve already heard the criticism from the right:  a retreat to tired liberalism and socialism; a backwards leap; doubling down on the Nanny State, an unrealistic assessment of where we are as a nation in 2016; a raft empty promises.  You will hear much more of this rhetorical barrage as the campaign finally kicks off and gets underway for real.  But what conservatives and Republicans don’t “get” is that America is sick and tired of thirty years of “me-first” politics, tired of the economics of pandering to the rich and the privileged, tired of the constant demeaning of the poor, the disabled, those who are not White, all the so-called “others” who are destroying America, the constant, shrill drumming of fear and hate into the collective consciousness of all of us.   Democrats, this week in Philadelphia, resoundingly rejected the past thirty years by calling for – not a retreat – but a restoration of the very essence of what it means to be an American. 

As I watched this week’s Democratic convention unroll day after day, and especially after Hillary’s speech, I feel as if I’ve finally come home after living in a foreign country for years; for decades.  For much too long we have watched the glowing lights of that proverbial "City On The Hill" being extinguished one by one, year after year, election after election, dimming the bright promise, the glowing beacon that America used to represent to us and to the world.  Finally, we are on our way to, not taking back America, but restoring America to the promise, the hope, the ideals that our Founding Documents embodied and the hope, the ideals and the promise that we’ve worked so hard to live up to – the end of slavery, the elevation of women, the rule of law, Civil Rights for all, equal opportunity for every American regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, religion or color.  And as ironically perverse as it may seem, we must continue to fight, continue to work towards, continue to forcefully counter the dark vision of America we've been offered and to continue down that long, winding road to the idealized perfection of America that we will never achieve.  

It is what America and being American is all about.

As the magnificent Tina Turner so eloquently proclaimed: We are "Simply The Best!"

Today Is A Great Day For America!  


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