October 30, 2020

Proud American

By Glenn

I am proud to live in America.   I am even prouder to live in Modern America.  Unlike the divine right monarchies and theocracies of the Bible, our constitution empowers people to create and improve a government.

Unfortunately, the original intent of those early voters limited participation to white, male property owners.  They looked out for themselves and subjugated women, slaves and laborers. The seed, however, had already been planted. The desire to participate grew. 

Early nineteenth century Americans witnessed an extraordinary change in attitudes.  White working class voters realized southern, race based slavery hurt wages and economic opportunity.  When plantation owners demand the right to spread slavery into the West, white voters handed the White House to Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was a free spoiler, and he pledge to stop the spread of slavery.  White supremacists refused to accept the loss. Not only did they leave the United States of America, but they also attacked the United States of America. 

What started as a spirited defense of racism ended with a full retreat.  Reconstruction not only freed the slaves, but the 14th Amendment provided birth right citizenship, equal protection of laws and the right to vote for African American males. 

This expansion of constitutional rights was so vast that many historians refer to it as a second American Revolution.  The initial promise soon fizzled however.  Systematic racism returned under the segregation laws, but the dream of a better America remained alive. 

The Populist and Progressive movements demanded government protection against abusive business practices.  Starting in the mid-West, they regulated banks, railroads, and food production.  Progressives in particular pushed for, and won, women’s suffrage. 

All of these changes produced big results in the 20th Century.  Voters had more power than the bankers, industrialists, and merchants.  They used that power when the Great Depression hit.

Unlike previous financial collapses, voters used the power of government to heal the pain.   Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal expanded electricity into rural America, provided unemployment relief, regulated Wall Street, and rebuilt Main Street.  Seniors who had lost everything gained a new Social Security program to prevent suffering.

The next generation built on that success.  Lyndon Johnson shepherded through Congress not only a Civil Rights Act in 1964 but also Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

Modern America took 200 years to build.  I am proud to live in Modern America.  Liberals have been at the forefront of these changes.  For the last 40 years, conservatives have failed to tear it down. I am proud to be a liberal. We will not retreat.  We will push for a more perfect union.

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