Phew. Seems the whole country has been rocked by storms – both of the natural and political persuasion – wreaking havoc and destroying dreams with an angry mix of blustery winds. The aftermath has also been similar. Woeful faces, gnashing of teeth and tears alongside shouts of joy, thankful prayers and celebrations of endurance.
Washington state is experiencing a mix of blue skies and dark clouds. Differing patterns have emerged with a close gubernatorial race and passage of the marijuana and gay marriage initiatives. I can’t help but wonder if an interesting storm will erupt in the foreseeable future.
And of course the airwaves are, once again, steeped in searing ridicule mostly on the presidential election. I, too, have felt that same anger in previous elections and rankled and roared to the powers that be. Nothing could silence my predictions of a catastrophic four years.
Funny thing happened on the way to the catastrophe, however. America kept moving on. The bumps and grinds of our capitalistic economy kept cranking forward. Despite rough seas and pounding storms, America didn’t get swept away in the undertow.
How did that happen, I wondered, when a perfect political storm was steering the United States toward doomsday?
To answer that question, I stepped into America’s history and discovered the Founding Fathers had our backs all along by creating a bevy of checks and balances designed to waylay the disasters we’re so quick to forecast when an election doesn’t go our way.
The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights conceptualized democracy as an ever-changing premise that must speak to each generation; the United States is dynamic in that concept because it embraces the challenge of change.
Although the writers, editors and signers of these documents were of varying political beliefs, they were united in their determination to establish a country where freedom is essential and opportunity abounds. They also possessed amazing foresight that has kept the American machine squeaky with change yet oiled with perseverance – the stuff all Americans are made of.
The more I read, the more this older and hopefully wiser person began to connect the dots. When I read Abraham Lincoln’s speech of 1858 wherein he said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” the essence of our democracy became as clear as the Liberty Bell’s ring – united we must stand.
My own kin arrived in this country filled with hopes and dreams of freedom and prosperity. It wasn’t easy because as newcomers they were considered a threat to the established order, but they persevered, became farmers and landowners, plowed and tilled, lost and won, birthed children and buried the dead. They fought in the Revolution, Civil War, and both World Wars. They’re the stuff America’s made of.
More importantly, their footsteps continue to echo today and in the midst of unruly storms, whether natural where lights go out and houses are torn from their foundations, or political where the pendulum undoubtedly swings left to right, right to left, they tell me this country will survive, they insist I stay the course, urge me to move forward.
I’ve learned to trust that echo. All of us should.