To those who don’t agree, please set aside any animus you may harbor toward former President Trump…or the Make America Great Again movement…or any notions about conservatism that may cause you to point and say, “That’s the problem.”

This is not a political post (culture and history are my topic areas). I’m not a MAGA rally-goer. I don’t wear “the hat.” But I do acknowledge every Trumper’s fundamental right to lift his/her voice as patriotic fellow citizens, and for their opinions to be respected without being lambasted as amoral. This is the crux of American democracy. The right to speak with our tongues and our votes without being disparaged.

There’s a lot of hyperbole this political season about losing our democracy if we vote for one candidate or the other. Perhaps the real danger to our system is this—the attempt to throw everything but the kitchen sink at a Presidential candidate in an attempt to keep him off the ballot. This has no precedent in American history.

(Political theater, in my humble opinion.)

I believe the U.S. will continue on long after this coming November. But I worry about the love we’ve lost for our fellow Americans. The love we seem to have lost for our great nation.

I’ve enthusiastically admitted to being an American flag-waver. Been one since I slid from my mother’s womb seventy-three years ago. (Well, maybe a little after that ride :) I was born on the Fourth of July. My favorite movie as a kid was Yankee Doodle Dandy with James Cagney…so you can’t really blame me.

Call me old-fashioned. I’m a right-of-center conservative on most issues, left of center on a few. Registered Independent. I know there are patriots on both sides of the political aisle. What I don’t understand is why many of our fellow citizens are so eager to find everything wrong with our country, while so many across the world are risking everything to start a new life here.

Karen and I just returned from a time in Cuba, where the population is repressed and starving. So many would chance that 90-mile watery escape across the Florida Straits if they could.

The unprecedented migration across our porous Southern border is further evidence that everyone and their brothers want to come to America—illegally if they must. And I can’t blame them. For what? If this is such a morally-bankrupt, inherently racist country, as many of our citizens maintain, why are citizens of the world leaving their homes and families for a better life in the U.S.?

Do they realize something we’ve forgotten? The precious gift of liberty?

Some of you reading this are saying I can’t see past my nose (which, with age, does seem to be growing more bulbous 🥴) What about all the historical injustices that litter our nation’s past—slavery, genocide of indigenous peoples, and systemic discrimination? Surely there must be an adequate accounting for these cruelties, is the rallying cry. And for the current inequalities that still plague society, like the lack of access to health care and education, racial discrimination, and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots?

Fix these problems and others, many say. Like our foreign policy actions that contradict the values of freedom, democracy, and justice; then I’ll feel a bit more like waving the flag.

Okay…we’ve got work to become a more perfect union. We can all agree on this, at least. But let’s not forget the other side of the ledger, lest we pull ourselves so far apart, we’ll never to come back to the middle to solve our problems.

Perhaps we need a new brand of patriotism that honors the values that launched our nation so long ago. Let’s remember the moments in our history that brought out the best in us: the outpouring of unity and patriotism that followed the 9/11 attacks; our commitment to protecting our allies and defending global security that justified the Gulf War; and the election of Barack Obama as the first Black President of the United States.

Why is America worthy of our patriotism, warts and all?

She’s still the stronghold of freedom, democracy, and equal opportunity.

Unlike Cuba, here we can still pursue dreams and achieve success, through hard work and determination. President Obama’s election proved this.

Here, a multitude of cultures, religions, and ethnicities are welcomed and celebrated, enriching our diversity and inclusivity.

Significant milestones throughout our history speak to the country’s forward march toward its founding principles. The Declaration of Independence, the abolition of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Technological advancements too numerous to detail. Contributions to global progress in the fields of science, technology, and culture. And humanitarian efforts that have impacted the world.

Yes, America deserves the devotion of all its people fortunate enough to be her citizens. Let’s continue to get better, and let’s be better patriots along the way.

God bless America, and all who live within her shores.