LEARNING FROM de TOCQUEVILLE IN 2020

Remember it was the French diplomat and political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville who first extolled the vibrancy of America’s civil society his two-volume Democracy in America (1835 and 1840).  Forty-six years later the French people affirmed de Tocqueville when they gifted America with the Statue of Liberty (dedicated October 28, 1886).

In other words, it wasn’t us blowing our own horn, rather an outsider who saw in us something new and laudatory within the family of nations.

Historically, what made America so appealing is the same thing that made Babe Ruth so appealing. We were big and strong, but fun-loving, good-natured, and out-going, too, and maybe, endearingly, a little naive. Though originally blind to the damage done by our slave-owning past and roughshod Manifest Destiny striving, overall, America was a smile and a clap on the back, a nation less cynical than the older European societies that preceded us. And within that spirit was a readiness to lend a hand to those in need, another reflexive, Ruthian trait.

We didn’t play up our size or our might. Instead, we were ‘aw-shucks’ humble in our strength, embracing in our openness, and generous in our spirit.

What happened to that America? Continue reading “LEARNING FROM de TOCQUEVILLE IN 2020”

AMERICUH 2018

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We come to wonder in times like these,

Whether the founders’ vision as first conceived,

Was a light for the ages from Enlightenment’s steeple,

Or a just votive candle for the lesser-blessed people.

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For Founding Fathers like Madison and Hamilton,

Though men of good will were inarguably masculine,

Whose unalienable rights attended the fortunes of birth,

Where color and land were measures of worth.

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Yet believing in full,

’Twas the way God designed it,

The true order of man,

Who were they to unwind it?

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Still, there was more to their vision,

Than even they ever saw,

As the breadth of their wisdom,

Slowly codified into law.

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Ever-widening the definition,

Of all men being equal,

Whether by gender or race,

Eventually all became legal.

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And though the union isn’t perfect,

Nor ever likely to be,

The struggle for inclusion,

Stretches sea to shining sea.

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Continue reading “AMERICUH 2018”