So, it’s the Fourth of July. I’m sure it has not escaped your notice. Suddenly people who are completely unaware the other 365 days of the year are standing up to talk about how “America is the best goddam country on Earth.” Flags are waved. Songs are sung. General bonhomie sweeps the nation.
And I feel…. uncomfortable. Out of place. Because I can’t spend 364 days of the year profoundly worried about America and then switch that off for 1 day of misplaced pride.
But I’m not going to let that happen anymore.
Because the Fourth doesn’t belong to people who love the State. Those people are a dime a dozen. The merely tribal have existed in every country in the world and always will.
Instead, the Fourth belongs to people like us, my fellow libertarians. Remember, America was founded and populated by the restless, the dissidents, the creators, the complainers, the agitators, and in some cases the downright criminals. People who knew something was wrong and worked to change it. And the thing is, most Americans are like that.
This year, I’m not going to celebrate America. I’m going to celebrate my fellow human beings. After all, it is ‘we the people,’ not ‘we the state.’
Here’s what I love about the human beings who share America with me:
Americans are innovative.
This is the country where new always means improved. Americans (and the immigrants who came to America) have created Silicon Valley, developed the Internet, decoded the human genome and put man on the moon. 40% of Nobel Prizes ever awarded have gone to Americans. And by my count, Americans have also developed about a dozen different varieties of orange juice. Unbelievable.
Americans are friendly.
We smile at everyone and sit down next to strangers on airplanes and share our entire life history. We are open and honest to a fault (that’s why reality TV does so well here). We also believe that “you can be anything you want to be when you grow up.” This is the single most powerful idea in world history; and it started here.
Americans are creative.
From YouTube videos to comic books to the Cathedral of Junk, Americans are definitely creative.
I’m not going to be proud of our 900+ military bases, but I love and respect the American who wrote Song of Myself, and the other American who wrote Civil Disobedience. I’m proud of Americans like Poe and Lovecraft, Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, who created entirely new art forms. And Jonas Salk and other American scientists who have completely eliminated diseases like polio. I’m even proud of the Americans who create apocalyptic Hollywood blockbusters (how many times have I seen New York destroyed? Too many to count). Because, dammit, that’s awesome.
Americans are charitable.
Most importantly, Americans are the most charitable people on earth. As Tocqueville said, “Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions, constantly form associations.” Americans understand community: how to build it, how to keep it, and how to use it to provide for each other.
Most of all, I admire the American who wrote “all men are created equal” and all the Americans since then who worked to actually make it happen.
Americans are opinionated and involved, big-hearted and loud-mouthed, passionate and creative. They are individuals. They are consumers par excellence. They are unhappy, restless, always demanding more. And THAT lack of complacency is what I love about Americans, and why I’m optimistic about the future.
I think I can work with people like that.