Empty Promises, Beautiful Prose

This was published on my self-hosted blog, January 2006.

I love my country. I am thankful there are men and women out there who devote their lives to maintain our freedom. I appreciate the opportunities our country offers us. But I have to say, politicians are a bunch of over-grown three-year-olds who love throwing temper tantrums because they know it’ll get them on the five o’clock news.

In a nutshell, it’s pathetic.

I’ll just say right now, I’m a Republican. And yet, I feel strange saying that out loud. True, I agree with about 60% of what Republicans stand for: less government power, less taxes, more citizen responsibility, blahblahblah, but I don’t agree with everything.

I’ll even admit to agreeing with a FEW of the Democratic issues though again, I must stress the word “few.”

Overall, I would say I’m an independent. I just want what’s fair for everyone. I realize this is an idealistic view but there you have it.

What prompted this sudden show of patriotism? The President’s State of the Union Address last night.

Normally, I wouldn’t watch the actual address, I would watch snippets of it played back on various news stations, but Dude’s social studies teacher gave the kids an optional extra credit assignment if they would watch it, list three points of interest and then write a paragraph about those issues.

So, we ended up watching the president, all four of us. (Jazz spent the time coloring a science project but occasionally he would pause and I could tell he was listening).

This family gathering warmed my heart. Our kids are taking an interest in our country! They are weighing the issues and forming their own opinions! That’s all I’ve wanted for our kids, to grow up independent and capable of thinking for themselves and not allowing them to be swept up into the majority because let’s face it, that’s not always the best course of action.

Kevin stopped the program several times so we could explain what some of the issues were to the kids. They really didn’t understand social security because c’mon, they’re kids and the thought of growing old and actually needing government help is eons away from their comprehension.

They didn’t understand why we were making such a big deal about oil and we had to explain to them that it wasn’t really about the efficiency of oil, though it’s past time we develop an alternative form of energy, but that we have grown dependent on countries who like to toy with our lives for kicks in their spare time.

America bows to no one, unless they have oil. *grimace*

I soon glazed over from all of the promises because let’s be honest, it all sounds good but we all know that very little, if any, of the “dreams” for a better running society will ever happen and certainly not overnight.

The citizen part of me tuned out and the writer in me tuned in. I started paying attention to semantics and the near poetic sing-song verbiage. The speech writers really did an excellent job. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the president’s speech:

America is a great force for freedom and prosperity. Yet our greatness is not measured in power or luxuries, but by who we are and how we treat one another. So we strive to be a compassionate, decent, hopeful society.

In recent years, America has become a more hopeful nation. Violent crime rates have fallen to their lowest levels since the 1970s. Welfare cases have dropped by more than half over the past decade. Drug use among youth is down 19 percent since 2001. There are fewer abortions in America than at any point in the last three decades, and the number of children born to teenage mothers has been falling for a dozen years in a row.

These gains are evidence of a quiet transformation — a revolution of conscience, in which a rising generation is finding that a life of personal responsibility is a life of fulfillment. Government has played a role. Wise policies, such as welfare reform and drug education and support for abstinence and adoption have made a difference in the character of our country. And everyone here tonight, Democrat and Republican, has a right to be proud of this record.

Yet many Americans, especially parents, still have deep concerns about the direction of our culture, and the health of our most basic institutions. They’re concerned about unethical conduct by public officials, and discouraged by activist courts that try to redefine marriage. They worry about children in our society who need direction and love, and about fellow citizens still displaced by natural disaster, and about suffering caused by treatable diseases.

As we look at these challenges, we must never give in to the belief that America is in decline, or that our culture is doomed to unravel. The American people know better than that. We have proven the pessimists wrong before — and we will do it again.

Fellow citizens, we’ve been called to leadership in a period of consequence. We’ve entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing to invite. We see great changes in science and commerce that will influence all our lives. Sometimes it can seem that history is turning in a wide arc, toward an unknown shore.

Yet the destination of history is determined by human action, and every great movement of history comes to a point of choosing. Lincoln could have accepted peace at the cost of disunity and continued slavery. Martin Luther King could have stopped at Birmingham or at Selma and achieved only half a victory over segregation. The United States could have accepted the permanent division of Europe and been complicit in the oppression of others. Today, having come far in our own historical journey, we must decide will we turn back or finish well?

Before history is written down in books, it is written in courage. Like Americans before us, we will show that courage and we will finish well. We will lead freedom’s advance. We will compete and excel in the global economy. We will renew the defining moral commitments of this land. And so we move forward—optimistic about our country, faithful to its cause and confident of victories to come.

May God bless America.

Just reading over this passage makes me feel strong and proud to be an American. We have flaws, we have differences, but it all boils down to our attempts to work together and to provide a strong, successful nation to pass on to our children.

I’m a realist. I WANT to believe politicians and the promises they make us but really, doesn’t it all boil down to appreciating beautiful, smart prose?