Women and minorities took rightful possession of the ability to vote. Slavery was abolished. Prohibition was viewed as an unnecessary puritanical intervention into private life, and it was overturned. Civil rights were guaranteed for (almost) all Americans. It's pretty awesome, in perspective--the scope and scale of these changes. America is a young country. 230 years ago, Asia, Europe, South America, North America, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia all had complex societies that had been developing for centuries, if not millennia. 230 years ago, America was still in thrall to the British Empire. Independence and the constant evolution of American society is a fascinating timeline to follow.
It doesn't happen, though, if American citizens abdicate or actively renounce their responsibility to be a watchdog for the government. The 1960's were the last great period of progressive activism in the United States, and since then, agitants in America have been looked at with scorn by a large percentage of the populace. They're hippies. Rabble-rousers. Communists. Peaceniks. Punks.
I can't begin to explain why this happened. I don't want to believe that there were that many racists in America in the 1970's and beyond, that resentment for civil rights activism could grow to a loathing of activists that cuts across the continent. Wealth was not as concentrated at the top in the 1970's as it became in the 80's and 90's, but that might have been the push to get the ball rolling. As fewer Americans fit into the penthouse suite, those who did became too comfortable to ever give it up. Their voices became not only louder, but rang nearer to those in power in American government. America as a political nation became less and less amiable to progressive activism. Those few who held out against this tide found increasingly caustic epithets hurled at them from the penthouse.
If you're reading this blog, then you're active. You're thinking about the topics I discuss, rather than just blindly accepting them the way they are fed to you. Even if you disagree, you're forced to defend your views to yourself, and that's the key. Live an examined life.
Do you have even one disagreement with the current administration? If so, you are being called un-American at this very moment by someone on the Right. Your patriotism is being questioned. Your morality is being questioned. Your very life might even be threatened by someone who values life so much that he'd advocate murder.
So why not show your patriotism by being active in politics? It's not silly to write your Senator or Representative on a weekly basis. They're there on your behalf. Would you expect your childrens' babysitter to put dinner on the table and then go to the mall for three hours? It's the same thing. Be a good constituent.
These are the very specific topics you should be well-versed on. These are the things you should be active about.
-The nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court
-The occupation of Iraq
-Genocide in Darfur
-Energy independence and conservation
-Ethics violations in Congress
-Deception and misuse of intelligence by the White House
-The No Child Left Behind Act
-Military recruiting practices
All these issues are current and ongoing in Washington and beyond. If you have an opinion on John Roberts' remarks on gender equality and reproductive rights, or Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff scoffing campaign finance laws, or the Downing Street Minutes, or any of these issues, you should make your voice heard. Say something to your representatives in government.
Shout over the voices that are trying to shout you down.