January 29, 2019

AMERICAN FIRST:

A Strong Start for the Democrats in 2020 (YASCHA MOUNK, JAN 28, 2019, Slate)

2. Recognize That America Is Flawed but Deny That It Is Rotten

There is no way for any liberal to look at the United States right now without seeing big, ugly stains. But there is a great range of opinions about how these stains should inform our overall view of the country. A growing number of writers and politicians believe that the rise of Trump is the last piece of evidence that was needed to prove the essential rottenness of America. According to this vision, there has been scant progress over the past 50 years. Today's mass incarceration is as bad as Jim Crow. America is as racist now as it was in the 1960s. The might of its army has the sole purpose of subjugating the rest of the world. Our country is irremediably fallen--and will likely remain so.

The competing vision Harris presents is no less indignant about the present injustices, but both more positive about the "true" nature of America and more hopeful about its future. It recognizes that America has come a very long way from its ugly past. It stipulates that it is, though perhaps not inevitable, entirely within our agency to bend history in an even better direction. And though it recognizes how far America's global standing has sunk under Donald Trump, it still aspires to the United States playing a role of moral leadership in the world. Perhaps most importantly, rather than throwing American symbols on the dustbin of history, it claims that liberals and progressives capture the true soul of America.

Speaking at Netroots, a giant gathering of progressive activists, last year, Harris first emphasized this theme:

The American people know that we are better than this. I know we are better than this because 13 years ago, New Orleans was under water and the initial response was appalling. Katrina exposed a shocking level of racism and neglect. But ultimately Americans of every race and religion and background--local leaders, church groups, college students--came together to bring the city back to life. That's who we are. That's our American identity. ... We are a country that is aspirational. We have not achieved all of those ideals. But we have those ideals and it is part of our identity to fight for those ideals. So let's not let anybody take our flag from us, OK? That's our flag.

On Sunday, she doubled down on the same message: "The truth is that as Americans we have so much more in common than what separates us," she exclaimed. "We are already standing on common ground. I say we rise together or we fall together as one nation indivisible."



Posted by at January 29, 2019 4:01 AM

  

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