Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. And Americans have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. We must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us. From our revolution, the Civil War, to the Great Depression to the civil rights movement, our people have always mustered the determination to construct from these crises the pillars of our history.
Thomas Jefferson believed that to preserve the very foundations of our nation, we would need dramatic change from time to time. Well, my fellow citizens, this is our time. Let us embrace it. Our democracy must be not only the envy of the world but the engine of our own renewal. There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.
That was from President Bill Clinton’s first inaugural address.
Today, the nation celebrates its birthday but it is a bittersweet celebration for many. Those on the right side of the political aisle are celebrating their wins against abortion and for the imposition of religion on others while those of us on the left feel betrayed by a nation that may not really think women are equal. We also are pensive and worried that the end of Roe will lead to the rollback of a host of other rights that we have taken for granted. I worry about the right to marry who we want, sleep with who we want and even vote may be looked upon as not having a strong history in this nation.
Nearly two months ago, I wrote this about voting rights here. “Black men got the right to vote in 1870. White women got that right in 1920, and that right should have been applied to women of color but it wasn’t. Black women didn’t really get the right to vote until 1965 when the Voting Rights Act became law. So, are voting rights for all ‘deeply rooted in the Nation’s history?’”
But as our Founding Fathers signed the declaration of Independence in July 1776, most of them owned people. When Thomas Jefferson wrote that “All men are created…