This seems like the inevitable question not just when you near the ballot box but more when you face the mirror, with no one else around.
It has to do with the deep sense of self-respect you hold for yourself and for this country – the land of your children and grandchildren, and theirs. Yes, this land checkered by a history we’ve both learned, at one time or another to be proud to come home to as well as to stay away from in shame. All in all, when you compare what’s been achieved in our area to the rest of the planet, we seem to be doing fine, but how do we go on ?
Do we see ourselves as the rulers of the world ,or a leader in the world? Do we want to be guided by history or do we just rewrite our history ? Do we go the way other empires have gone before us – as a fading Pax Romana did before a looming Pax Americana now? Has America stopped defining itself that it now has to assert itself on other nations to survive or is it still capable of self-correction and self-renewal as it did so in the past ?
The American Revolution, a Constitution that promoted respect for religious beliefs, the Civil War, the women’s and the colored peoples’ civil marches for equality are all part of the historical tapestry that unfolds upon us as we face the stars and stripes displayed at the polling booth. Those struggles cannot be undone in the same way as we cannot have another flag. For the rest of America’s still-to-be-written history, we now face the spectre of political parties defining that for us.
As a vibrant democracy, we seem to have led the world in promoting political parties who all vigorously define themselves in terms of this country and somehow in this crazy mix of ideas that pull at us from the very left to the very right, we somehow almost always manage to hit dead center, and it works.
There will always be rabid followers of either camps who are no better than the Brownshirts instigating to have Hitler voted as Chancellor and who in salivating for your votes will stop at nothing (mesmerizing, obfuscating, cajoling, coercion, even vote-rigging) just to see their party in power. The measurements on which they will be gauged will not change, though and are simple enough for all to see. It will be “What you have said against What you have done”.For the more circumspect, one can even add, “How this was done”.
Is the Party of “cut and run” any better than the Party of “gun and fun” ? When does loyalty for your party stop and when does loyalty for your country begin ? Will it either be a Democrat or a Republican doing the voting or will it be an American?
Now, if only we could make the right choice. In the words of a protestor holding up his placard during a Presidential Inauguration not too long ago, “God Help Us”.