In 2008, America was the first Western industrialized nation to elect Barack Obama as a non-white head of state. In 2016, the pendulum swung backwards when ultra-white business mogul Donald Trump was elected. As Trump reverses progress made under Obama towards global cooperation in critical areas such as climate change and healthcare, it can help Americans examine what makes their country so great.
1. America has a strong foundation. The declaration of independence of 1776 declares that the new country which is liberating itself from England is founded on an inalienable human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
2. The Constitution of 1786 set out the rights that would be protected. These include the right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, the right to assemble and the right to bear arms.
3. Amendments to the Constitution set forth rights not provided for by ancestors in accordance with their intention. Thus, slaves were once recognized as full citizens, as were women who obtained the right to vote.
4. The law reigns in America. The ingenious part of the Constitution is its separation of the powers of government of the country into three branches, one which makes the law, another which puts into practice and a third which acts as an intermediary when the other two come into conflict. In the end, the Constitution wins.
5. America offers legal protection. In the 250 years since its founding. America has developed a constitutionally compliant legal system that guarantees the rights of its citizens. This evolution of the law continues. While the Miranda Law now protects the rights of defendants, legislation is being drafted to regulate the trafficking of firearms in the country.
6. America is helpful and forgiving. Social assistance is available for those in need, and bankruptcy laws allow others to get out of financial trouble. Legal recourse is always available for those who feel wronged. If in doubt, call one or two lawyers.
7. If legal recourse for a grievance is inaccessible or out of reach, America is open to the media. If this box is checked and unable to get action from the owner, city, or company, Americans are free to contact any media in the United States that is fan-friendly, starting with the press and local stations.
8. America is friendly. Yes, America as a complex nation of immigrants sees daily violence among Jews, but it is not the American norm. Conflicts are inevitable. They are put into perspective by a walk to the local bodega. The Mexican or Indian behind the counter is here to please and is the real person behind the currently scary immigrant label.
9. America is the land of opportunity for change. Americans have a constitutional right of assembly. They can organize marches, sit-ins, sit-downs and walk-outs. All it takes is a motivating cause. America gives the afflicted the opportunity to collectively express their discontent.
10. America loves to party. A land of immigrants provides vacations all year round. All-American July 4 and Thanksgiving Day are among the biggest. Others include St. Patrick’s Day, Istaeli Independence Day, Puerto Rico and Caribbean Days. Not to mention the New Year, celebrated by the whole world.
The list could go on and it is being built with the luck of those in America in mind. The path to 2019 can continue to be stressful, but 2020 will bring an election and a census every 10 years. It will count us all regardless of status. Everyone here now is a resident, also grateful to smile at a neighbor who could be from anywhere else in the world.