One of my favorite Professors told me just before I moved out to Montana that the Western United States were the frontiers of the American imagination. They were the places that the American mind went to dream. Some congruence of her romantic tone and ideas and the simple fact of her European upbringing made me think twice about why and where I was moving. Shortly thereafter I drove the approximately 1,500 miles from the mid-West, to the West. And there was no mid- about it.
Now, as I wax philosophical (and patriotic) and celebrate the nation's independence for the second time in Montana, while still solidly rooted in my mid-Western traditions, I think about the role of Patriotism in my experience here at Vote Smart. Patriotism has been derided as the "virtue of the vicious" by Oscar Wilde, and lauded by Abraham Lincoln when he said, "I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him."
I would like to submit a middle ground to the perception of patriotism, especially as our country ventures into yet another increasingly contentious, expensive and talked about election. Patriotism requires work. It is, in the words of one-time Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson, patriotism is "not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." And that, my friends, is exactly what it is that Project Vote Smart is all about. The steady creation of a database of information, with a dedication to serve the American people has resulted in the greatest source of information at the finger tips of the American Voter in the history of the digital age. And things around here are changing. We are launching the most concerted effort in Project history to inform the voting public, to free up the barriers to the flow of information and to get the non-biased, un-spun facts into the hands of the people who will then elect their leaders. The informed citizen is, in my idealistically humble vision, a true patriot. And on this, the 231st anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I would like all of the readers here to undertake the "tranquil and steady" process of accruing the information necessary to meaningfully participate in our democratic republic. Educate yourself. Encourage others to do the same. Write to the people who represent you and articulate your views, your priorities and your opinions.
Benjamin Franklin declared that the Constitutional Convention gave to the people "a Republic, if [we] can keep it." This July 4th, let us struggle to keep this republic healthy, vital and thriving as educated citizens and true patriots.
By: Carolyn Holmes, Director of Media and Public Relations.
4 July 2007
Written by Media