The folks in the red hats have co-opted the narrative. Firstly, they pre-suppose that this country only belongs to them. Secondly, they refer back to some unspecified, air-brushed time period in the past when America was “great.”

Before I am accused of being non-patriotic, I will state emphatically that I love my country. America’s ideals are my ideals. “We hold these truths to be self-evident that ALL men are created equal…” is my life-motto. The fact that the people who wrote those words used them hypocritically does NOT mean they are untrue. America as a place where anyone can come, start from nothing, and become financially secure is a beautiful thing.

Many immigrants from all over the world are still able to do just that. In fact, many American citizens are able to do just that as well. The number of black millionaires, and even billionaires, is unbelievable, considering that only a generation ago it was illegal and/or life-threatening to be black and do normal things like ride a bus and sit where you want. It is still dangerous to be black and do normal things, but at least it’s not legal (technically) to stop us from doing them.

Likewise, only a generation ago, in many states, marital rape was an oxymoron, a woman could lose a college scholarship if she got married (after all, her bread-winning husband should pay her way, right?), and you couldn’t wear pants to school if you were a girl.

So, sorry, there is no fantasy place in the past where things were “great.” However, America, with its constitution, its moral ideals, its freedoms, and its enormous possibilities, is a land that can absolutely be GREAT (like, real-great!).

I refuse to give ownership of this country over to haters and evil bastards looking to hurt, harm, and oppress anyone who doesn’t look exactly like them. The flag does not belong to racists. It belongs to us. I challenge all of us to wear symbols of the American flag proudly. Yes, I know that many times when someone is waving a flag, they are also waving around a lot of bigotry and hate. But we don’t have to LET them have it.

This country belongs to those of us whose ancestors WORKED on it. We cultivated the land and allowed this nation to BECOME the prosperous land it is today. Our ancestors bore their burdens and sorrows patiently and sadly, believing in God, hoping that one day their children’s children would be free.

Are things perfect? (um, no!). But we are poised to make America truly great. A GREAT America honors all the blood that has been spilled in the name of greed, hate, and fear. It restores justice to all. Justice must truly become blind. Laws must apply equally to all of us – or none of us! Because our government structures are sound, we have the right, as citizens, to protest, and to hold our elected leaders accountable – or replace them if they fail us. We are not helpless.

The average citizen may not have the money to buy politicians. But what we do have are numbers. If we use our power strategically – instead of numbing out with entertainment or wasting time arguing with trolls online – we can really get something accomplished in our lifetime. If we focus on our own wealth, we can improve our own neighborhoods, and become less dependent on the whims of the government. If we educate our own children, we don’t have to allow another generation to be brainwashed by lies and half-truths.

America as a concept IS great. As an optimist, I believe America WILL be great – someday.

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