Notes From Norm: This Is Our Exceptional America
Sometime this evening, if all goes according to plan, America will elect a new President to lead our nation for the next four years.
A seemingly never-ending bitter, acrimonious and anxiety ridden Presidential campaign will come to an end.
The pundits, historians, political scientists, consultants, politicians, and the American people themselves, will wonder and talk about this campaign for years to come. Their analysis will take place in classrooms, boardrooms, conferences and bars and pubs throughout America.
The winner will ultimately take the oath of office. The loser will hopefully embrace the results of America’s democratic system of elections. He or she will acknowledge the will of the people of America.
The United States of America will rise to the meet the challenges of the future.
Or will we?
Those two words – United States—are important in the context of the times we live in. They have been important words in the context of the times we have lived in.
It was the United States of America that won two world wars. Endured a depression and transformed our economy into the most powerful the world has ever known.
It was the United States of America that has remained committed to the ideals of liberty, equality and freedom at home, and around the world.
Much more work remains to be done.
Too many are still seeking meaningful and family supporting work. Too many Americans struggle for justice and equality. Too many do not have access to quality, affordable health care.
Our borders are not secure. Our roads and bridges are crumbling. Our local, state and national governments have increasingly grown distant from the people they are elected to serve.
Even still, America remains the beacon of hope and democracy throughout the world.
When we have been divided, we have threatened that beacon of hope and democracy.
Our Civil War tore us apart. It was only the wisdom of our President, and the hard work of Americans to find healing and forgiveness, that kept us apart.
This past week the Washington Post and the New York Times both ran extensive stories about how the world has expressed disgust at our presidential campaign.
Their operating premise is that the tone and tenor of it raises serious questions about whether millions throughout the world any longer see our nation as a model of democracy and freedom.
Both papers claim that American democracy and ideals are lacking in this age.
I could not disagree more.
I believe America is as strong as it has ever been despite the challenges we face.
Winston Churchill once said “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”
He was right when he said it in 1947 – he’s right today in 2016.
Talk to the people of Syria, North Korea, Russia, China and elsewhere if they believe their leaders choosing themselves – rather than them choosing their leaders — is their preferred form of human governance.
Ask them if being attacked, murdered, families destroyed, property taken and lives devalued is a better form of governance than that which America enjoys every single day.
As bad and awful as this year’s election seems to have been neither candidate for President will get to decide for themselves whether he or she is President.
You will. I will. The American people will.
American Exceptionalism is not a vague notion. Nor is it, or should it, be a slogan.
It is an ideal. An aspiration. A purpose.
There is a shining city on the hill that is America. It does shine bright.
Though the intensity of its light may flicker and dim from time to time it will never be extinguished.
As long as We, the People, remain committed to the principles of our Constitution and to its promise of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for all Americans.
We have a choice in accepting the results of an election that was at times repulsive, insulting and outright sickening.
Yet, at its worst, bears no resemblance to the tyranny, exclusion, corruption and violation of human rights of dozens of nations throughout the world.
We can either be people who just live here and are “of America.”
Or, we can be people who believe we are “of America” and that we live in The United States of America – the most important, powerful and purposeful …”one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”