It’s easy to get frustrated with our American government, but a look around the world offers some good reminders of why U.S. democracy is worth celebrating on the Fourth of July and every other day of the year.
Americans certainly have reason to be disturbed by the partisan gridlock currently gripping the U.S. Congress, particularly the U.S. House. Too many of our elected representatives would rather take no action on a national issue than to accept anything that looks like a political compromise. Partisan victories are taking precedence over the nation’s welfare.
Some states, including Kansas, also are being wracked by partisan divisions. Texas, for instance, has been the focus of attention in the last week for State. Sen. Wendy Davis’ dramatic filibuster that temporarily derailed legislation to add sweeping restrictions to the state’s abortion laws.
There’s no doubt that Americans on both ends of the political spectrum are frustrated and angry. With that in mind, the Fourth of July is an appropriate time to remind all Americans how fortunate we are to live in a country that allows us to freely express our frustration with the government and many of our elected officials. We also have the right — and duty — to participate in that government. In a way, it’s good that people are angry, because it means they are paying attention to their government and seeing a need to change things. The next step is to translate that anger into action by running for office or supporting candidates who share your priorities.
American democracy offers a framework and stability that has served the country well for more than 200 years. Power moves smoothly from one set of leaders to another without violent protests or military coups, as so often happens in other parts of the world.
Americans have reason to be frustrated with the government right now, and our elected officials should hear that frustration and try to clean up their act. This is a great country, but its greatness is built on a spirit of compromise and a willingness to put aside narrow political interests in order to move the country forward. A win for your party isn’t always a win for the nation.
American democracy may not be perfect, but it gives us an unprecedented opportunity to voice our opinions and institute change. It’s a precious institution worth protecting and celebrating.
Happy Fourth of July.