My German born mother who adopted this country, America, as her own when I was but a baby, grew up in WWII Nazi Germany. My mother raised me to love and cherish our democracy. She more than most Americans knew how truly special it is to live under a system that respects the life and freedoms of the individual. She was a person who understood the meaning of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. She understood very clearly what it was to grow up under a government that restricted/banned individual freedom of speech, or the freedom to assemble.
I took our democracy for granted, I didn’t understand.
As a young adult I enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp. In my idealistic and naïve youth I remember thinking that the USA was the champion of freedom and if ever we were committed to war the reasons would be sound and just. And if I were to die while protecting our shores or even the rights and privileges of the oppressed in other parts of the world, then so be it. After all we’re the good guys. Eight years later after marriage and the birth of our daughter I decided to leave the service and devote myself to my family and the American dream.
I was a little wiser, but I still didn’t understand.
In my thirties I worked hard, was lucky enough to find decent work with good pay. I paid my bills, and taxes. I voted. After each election cycle I turned my thoughts to other things, leaving the running of our country and democracy to our elected officials. They will know what is best. After all, they represent me, an American citizen. They will act in my best interest.
I still didn’t understand.
I’m now in my forties. I began to take notice. I’m not sure what it was, but I think it was the republicans parties attempt and success of derailing any form of real governmental progress during the Clinton administration over what in my eyes should have been a private matter between President Clinton and his wife. Why were the republicans so ready to put the governing of the American people on the back burner while they spent millions upon millions of our money trying to impeach him. Why did they hate him so. The government coffers had a huge surplus, and the economy at the time was booming. Something was going on, there were obviously other forces, other agendas at work here. For the first time in my life, I began to pay attention.
I was beginning to understand.
The rest is history. We have a president that was placed in office by the Supreme Court of the United States. We have an administration that condones the use of torture, and has been condemned by Amnesty International for human rights violations. (An organization that the USA in the past had been all to eager, rightfully so, to quote when pointing the finger at other oppressive governments, but conveniently rejects when the finger is pointing at us). We have an administration that allows warrant- less spying on its citizens in direct violation of our Constitution. We have an administration that openly expresses its right to “pre-emptive” military attacks on sovereign nations. No country in the world is safe as long as you have an administration that is willing to cook the books with regard to bogus intelligence. We have a president who feigns open debate while his audiences are either pre-screened “Bush friendly” or are in uniform and bound by duty to honor their “Commander-In-Chief”. I would remind those in uniform that their first duty is to protect the Constitution of the United States.
We have an administration that will do business with the oppressive tyrants of the world as long as it is in “Americas interest” while professing to the rest of the world that we adhere to the rights of all people to be free. We have an administration that currently represses free speech by shuffling dissenting protest off to cordoned off “free speech zones” or by passing ordinances that revoke the right to peaceful assembly as was done outside of his Crawford, Tx. ranch. As Cindy Sheehan now knows, one is not even allowed to wear a T-shirt expressing dissent without risking arrest.
This list could go on for many more pages, from the corporate controlled media to the robbery of the American treasury by our elected officials. From no bid contracts to war profiteers like Haliburton to the unconstitutional “Patriot Act”.
But I now know what my mother tried so hard for me to understand when I was younger. That Democracy can never, ever be taken for granted. It needs to be loved and caressed. It needs to be cherished. And the citizens of this nation need to demand that its principles will be adhered to. For to ignore it we will lose it. Be a citizen and follow the very important issues that are a part of our world today. Follow them closely (and use internet/library sources to further investigate what you hear from the mass media). Contact your elected officials and let them know where you stand. Be a part of our democracy.