[Guest post by DRJ]
Martin Luther King may have had a dream but Barack Obama has a theme: He wants to make America a more perfect union. He’s mentioned it twice in two days, and I think it will reappear in the coming days and in his Inaugural Address.
For example, Obama invoked this theme yesterday as he traveled by train from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.:
“Starting now, let’s take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union,” Obama said. “Let’s build a government that is responsible to the people, and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable.
“Let’s all of us do our part to rebuild this country,” he said, with words that clearly point to the theme that will emerge from his inauguration as the 44th president on Tuesday. “Let’s make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning.”
In addition, in an article in today’s Parade Magazine, Obama touched on this theme in a letter to his daughters in which he explains why he ran for President: Because he wants to make America a better place for his daughters and all children. The letter deals with America’s imperfections, and nowhere is that more obvious than in this section where Obama talks about what he learned from his mother:
“She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better-and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It’s a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.”
Obama’s letter is a litany of things people want but he implies few have — things like puppies, good schools, clean air, and peace — and he encourages his daughters (and others) to right wrongs as their highest calling. It’s not a letter encouraging children to work diligently at their careers, it’s a letter telling them to make a difference in their neighbor’s lives. The latter sounds nice but the former is more useful advice, for them and for America.
America will never be perfect and although it’s good to work at making it better, it’s also good to recognize why America has succeeded. Americans didn’t succeed by perfecting their neighbor’s lives; they succeeded by working hard to provide for their families.
I’m always surprised and disheartened when some liberals see America as a glass half empty rather than a glass half full. (I wish they could see it as a land brimming with opportunity.) I know liberals can feel optimism about America because recent media reports depict a resurgence of that feeling since Obama’s election, but I don’t understand how they can measure America’s worth in different ways depending on who is President.