I have always considered myself a patriot, though I’ve never really described myself as such. It’s probably because I’ve always had the sense that the term “patriotism” was shorthand for a blind, jingoistic love of America, an illogical sense that America doesn’t have any flaws, a refusal to recognize where the country goes wrong.
However, I wonder if it’s time for me to get over that perception, and to embrace the terms “patriotism” and “patriot.” You can love this country while recognizing its flaws—its unfinished work on racial, sexual, religious, economic and educational equality, its corrupt campaign financing system, its unrestrained pollution, its dishonest or cowardly media entities. You can love this country because you recognize that with enough effort, and enough political will, America can overcome its chronic flaws.
I’m a patriot because I want America to achieve its promise of excellence. We’re nowhere near that point, of course, which is why we can’t stop fighting to make a better country reality.
I may not live to see a better America, but I hope that when I die, we’re closer than ever to that better America.
An America where a girl has the exact same chance as a boy, and a black child has the exact same chance as a white child.
An America where a young child who feels he or she cannot live up to the unreasonable demands of a society obsessed with old-school gender roles can believe that it does in fact get better.
An America where immigrants, legal and illegal, will be welcomed with compassion instead of scorn.
An America where we actually pay women the exact same wage as men.
An America where the income disparity between the rich and the poor is the smallest in the industrialized world.
An America in which voters are fully knowledgeable on issues and fully engaged in politics.
An America in which the Fox News Channel is dismissed as a live-action cartoon.
An America in which Meet the Press, Face the Nation and This Week ask real questions of our elected officials.
An America in which no child dies of senseless gun violence.
An America in which no child goes to school or to sleep hungry.
An America in which a woman’s right to choose can never be abridged.
An America in which billionaires cannot buy elections.
An America that stays out of needless wars.
An America that cherishes science, logic and reason.
An America that doesn’t care if you’re Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist or agnostic.
An America where we realize we’re all in this together.
That’s the America I’m fighting for.
That’s the America we’re fighting for.
And it’s a fight we absolutely have to win.