Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Of Thee I Sing

Molly Ivins used to celebrate the Fourth with an annual tribute to the people who make America America. She'd recognize the ones who'd stood for the good, who'd been unabashedly courageous in the face of the bad, and who gave us shining moments of exuberantly bizarre glory in which you could only stop, poleaxed by the audacity of it all, not sure whether to laugh or cry or just sigh and say, "Yep. That's us."

Molly's not around to give us our yearly dose of national appreciation for 2007. (Damn, we lost some good ones this year). I'm no Molly, but by God, somebody needs to step up to the podium and make an attempt to fill those big ol' boots. Because the things that make us special -- that are worth carrying on the fight for -- deserve to be remembered and cherished, and not just once a year.

So, on this here Fourth...

Let's give a shout-out for our truth-tellers -- to the patriots who aren't afraid to say what needs to be said, even when it might cost them plenty. The witnesses to Lurita Doan's oh-so-helpful Power Point presentations. The soldiers who pester their Congressfolk with unspeakable truths about the war. David Kuo, who reported on the right wing's faith-based corruption out of a sense of decency; and Monica Goodling, who determination to lie for God finally gave way before an angry Congress. Henry Waxman, with his apparently iron stomach for BushCo bilge. The reporters who told us about Walter Reed. Dana Priest, who has told us more ugly shit about our government than anyone since Sy Hersh. Sy Hersh, who's still at it and getting better through the years.

And then there are the guys and gals who are making our New Liberal Media happen -- Stewart and Colbert and Olbermann on TV; Hartmann and Rhodes and Seder and Schultz on the radio; Moore and Gore and Greenwald on the big screen; and an army of happy blogging warriors bringing up the rear in a deafening roar of chatter. All the years the right wing's been talkin' at us -- we're finally answering the bullies back. And we're not just brave about it, but usually funny, too.

An extra wave of Old Glory to those who are listening to 'em. Don't get mad, y'all. Get even.

Here's to the Democratic consultants who still haven't figured out their own base; and to the base, which finally told them to go to hell and is now taking back the party. And to those of you working in local party offices coast to coast -- the sturdy retirees and earnest poli-sci students and union members and hard-working family folks who book the rallies, distribute the signs and bumper stickers, walk the precincts, work the phone banks, and staff the tables at the mall and the county fair. These are the foot soldiers who make our whole system work. If you're not doing your own time down in those trenches, you're nowhere near the front lines of the fight.

Roses and banners for the public servants who continue to show up to jobs that have been sliced and diced beyond recognition by budget cuts and ideological meddling -- and do the right thing, day after day, anyway. Here's to the cops, nurses, teachers, paramedics, firefighters, and our fellow citizens who pick up the garbage, round up the strays, run the waterworks, keep the lights on, and fix the streets. (A special hat tip to the doctors and pharmacists making sure we, and not the Religious Right, get to choose the size and timing of our families.) There's still a large army of you out there bringing your generous hearts and fine minds to our service in spite of all the abuse you've taken for it -- and as long as that's the case, there's hope for civilization.

Twenty-one guns, full lifetime health care, and a tuition check to our soldiers. You're there because we failed -- and price of that failure will haunt us all to our graves. May we never stop finding new ways to say, "Thank you for your service." Good God, it's the very least we can do.

Molly always tipped her ten-gallon to the folks who keep America weird. This year, that would be Paris Hilton and Sanjaya and the predator-nabbers at Dateline NBC and the guy in Cincinnati with the new creationist museum. Dick Cheney, as always, is doing his part, too, even though he's no longer part of the Executive Branch.

And here's a big, tall cold one to all three hundred million of us. Overweight, overworked, overstressed, and over Bush -- but somehow not quite over the American dream of a green backyard furnished with intact lawn chairs, burgers on the grill, a big cooler full of beer, and a perfect summer evening with friends, family, fireworks, and that ridiculously garish flag that still belongs to all of us -- red, blue, white, black, brown, and every other color of the spectrum.

Put your bare feet in the grass. Print out the Declaration and read it out loud to your kids. Sing "This Land Is Your Land" in four-part harmony. (If you don't know the harmony line, make one up. You're American: it's your God-given right to improvise.) It's by no means the greatest nation any more -- but it's our nation, still, and the future is only going to be as good as we can make ourselves believe it will be.

The first step is to get out there and party like it's 1776. This revolution has been underway for 229 years now -- but it still ain't over yet, and tomorrow we're right back in the line of fire. But today is a day to kick back, watch the fireworks reflected in each others' eyes, and remember just what it is we're fighting for.