Instead of a prompt today, I wanted to just write freely about a topic that really important to me: Our future.
Since becoming more than slightly obsessed with the Hamilton musical, my mind has constantly been ruminating on one question: What would our founders and the people who began our country think of us now? What would immigrant Alexander Hamilton think of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who recently stated that if he were to be president, no Muslims would be allowed in this country? How would George Washington respond to warmongers, when he used guerrilla tactics as opposed to facing the British outright?
To excuse racism and bigotry, most people only reference the founding fathers when it comes to legal precedent and interpreting the Constitution. I read opinions that declare: This isn’t what the founding fathers had in mind when they wrote this in 1789! Cars didn’t exist in 1789 either, neither did a wider tolerance for LGBTQ rights or nuclear bombs. Our constitution should represent our country, a living breathing document that is continually evolving and changing as our day-to-day lives change with it. That is not to say that the racism that is so prevalent in our country should be allowed into the permanent narrative. Our country was based on the principles of free speech, and free religion. That a candidate seems to think he can amass a hatred shows how truly un-American he is.
The America that I have grown to appreciate is a place of innovation in both technology and in thought. There are naturally things in our past that would give great cringe to some – can you imagine Hamilton’s reaction to Vietnam or interference in Latin America? But there are also things that really portray what it means to represent this nation. Legalizing same-sex marriage would certainly appeal to Hamilton… But more than that, our fight about racism in the 1960s truly showed that we had problems, but that despite that – we’re working towards solving them. The political activism of the latter half of the 20th century was so alive, that it makes today’s activists seem like walking zombies. Where are the protests? Why are we not dunking tea in harbors?
To come back to my original question, since I’ve strayed: What would they think of us now? I think they would be disappointed. I’m not going to relate this to a specific policy question, since that defeats the purpose somewhat. Instead, I’m going to use the notion of political activism and striving for goals because we believe in them. In the 2012 Presidential election, we had a voter turnout of 54.9%. That is embarrassingly low. Our founders created this country so that its citizens could have the right to choose their governors, and that we could express ourselves through our own free speech and representation. That we believe so little in our own values, and aren’t willing to express ourselves says a lot about what the future brings. When half the population isn’t bothered to come to the polls, there is something grossly incompetent about our structure. We need reform. We need change. And we need it now.