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A NATION THAT RISES TO THE OCCASION WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT THE UNITED STATES
The United States really is unlike any other country in the world. Since our independence 244 years ago, we’ve built a society that, in times of trouble, has been a beacon of hope and freedom around the world. At our best, we can come to the aid of the poor and the needy and help them raise themselves up out of poverty to achieve the American dream. Unfortunately, we’re not always at our best. Sometimes, when we’re in times of trouble, it seems like we’d rather stay divided than come together for the common good. That said, though, even as we grapple with the latest global crisis, I believe the tools we’ve used in the past to rise to the occasion are still there, and we still have time to use them. “WE WEREN’T FOUNDED BY THE RICH AND THE POWERFUL — WE WERE FOUNDED BY THE PEOPLE WHO WERE BEING OPPRESSED BY THE RICH AND THE POWERFUL.” When I think of what makes America incredible, the first thing that comes to mind is the protections afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These documents ensure that people of all races, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds can live safely and freely within our borders, provided we enforce them. They make up the very foundation of the United States as a country, and they have the potential to inspire and captivate Americans, as well as people in other countries. I remember a friend of mine in law school who was from Montreal, Canada, who had a deep interest in constitutional law. He actually scored the highest in our class on that subject, and he wasn’t even an American citizen. To me, that’s a testament to the power of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Another thing that sets the United States apart is the idea that you can come from any background and become a leader in the free world — upward mobility is ingrained in our culture. I lived in Europe for a little
while about 25 years ago, and one difference between American and European societies that stood
out was how Europeans were more or less content to maintain their current socioeconomic status, barring some exceptions. But in the United States, you can start off needing food stamps and living in public housing and still work hard enough to become successful. You can choose the life you want for yourself. I think Americans’ ability to rise above their station comes largely from my final reason for America’s exceptionality: We weren’t founded by the rich and the powerful — we were founded by the people who were being oppressed by the rich and the powerful. Then, for centuries after that, we opened our doors to all sorts of people escaping oppression and gave them the opportunity to join in and contribute to the American experiment. It’s hard to imagine in our super partisan age that we’re the same country that united to end the Great Depression and take down the Third Reich. That’s because we did it not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. And now more than ever, we need to remember that as diverse as we are, we can still come together to tackle the crisis in front of us. We’ve done it before, and I believe we can do it again.
Happy Fourth of July, everyone.
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