08 January 2008

Cynics Alert - Oddly Optimistic Blog Posting About America

Monday night, I flew into Washington National airport about 8 PM. The flight path sometimes goes right over the mall and I find the view inspiring every time. The monuments all lit up. The capitol dome behind Washington's monument. (Okay, Washington's monument is admittedly odd. Could we have erected a more phallic symbol to honor the father of our country?) The Jefferson Memorial aglow along the Potomac River. Then, as I drive south, I again see the beauty of the mall from another angle. It's a view that would have to inspire at least a temporary love of country in even the most jaded lobbyist.

This country is such a fabulously interesting experiment in social invention, such a brilliant bit of daring on the part of the founding fathers. And for all our kibitzing and whining about the way things are (I sometimes think that blogging is the equivalent of talking back to the TV), the results have been unpredictably spectacular.

When this country was founded, in the late 18th century, life expectancy was not even 30 years. Monarchs dictated even your beliefs. "All men were created equal" are among the most revolutionary words ever written.

Tonight, the pundits are analyzing Hillary's win over Barack Obama. Putting aside politics and who one would like to see win, I think that the Obama - Clinton victories are a beautiful thing. The Democrats are favored to win in the fall, so their primaries really do matter. And that a black won the first caucus and a woman the first primary is truly extraordinary.

It seems to give evidence to the claim that we are, indeed, still making progress. For the sake of your blood pressure, take a day to revel in this fact. This country was founded by idealists with a sense of urgency, possibility, and nearly inexplicable optimism. We've no reason to give up on that combination now. History is still being made and this is a fascinating time to be alive.


cce said...

Thanks for the half-full commentary today, Ron. I felt nothing but glee about last night's primary results. Any of the democratic candidates would be okay with me and I can even live with McCain if the universe should shake it up and spit him out in '08.

ThomasLB said...

What the results tell me is that it's not about race or gender- it's about money and contacts.

Bah. Humbug.

David said...

I admire your on-final lapse into sensing that the American experiment has turned out to be okay, more than okay. But it's not okay because of politicians and their campaign promises though some pols have contributed more than others. You did mention the founding fathers and their contributions, the one's some are trying to interpret and bring "up to date."

You didn't mention that five-sided building in VA (also visible on final into Reagan) with its own history of honor and sacrifice for America and the often last act contributions of men and women before and after its construction. Without them there would be no progress to be made today.

I agree that the Clinton-Obama victories are symbolically a beautiful thing. I wish only that you had mentioned the real (instead of self-proclaimed) dedication to duty, honor and country of the armed forces as the enablers and protectors of this grand experiment. Compare their actions (any era) to that of the current (or any) congress, for one, and the Pentagon and the many memorials (the ones you mentioned and forgot to mention) quite outshine that one end of the mall as beautiful as it may be.

But bravo Ron, I had the same feelings every time I flew into DCA and hope to again soon.

Lifehiker said...

Our country had a good start because a) a long ship voyage separated us from the monarch, b) we started from almost a clean sheet, and c) our natural resources were immense.

Sometimes I wonder if Washington could be a long ship voyage from us, that we could start over with a clean sheet, and that we could wake up the untapped resources of our under-educated people. The candidates you mention might get us at least part of the way, but I'm afraid the entrenched "powers that be" are the monarchs of the 21st century - and they are right here, too close for comfort.

Ron Davison said...

I agree about McCain. Really, the biggest difference of opinion I have with him is about his support for the war.

You may not want to hear this, but studies have indicated that money itself doesn't get the votes. Instead, money seems to follow candidates who have support.

I did fail to mention the pentagon and its soldiers. It's obviously an oversight in terms of who most sacrificed.

No doubt that we still have issues today - but how much better to be living into our mid-70s and worrying about medicare and social security rather than dying off at 30.