But you'll be lying if you do
By Jill C. on 1/18/2009, 5:17pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Jill C. of Brilliant at Breakfast

You know, I almost always feel cynical about this country. I have for as long as I can remember, even back when I was a thirteen-year-old stuffing envelopes for a Congressional candidate who ended up losing. I don't think you can grow up when I did without being a cynic.

I've been watching the "We Are One" concert at the Lincoln Memorial, with its smiling gospel choirs and its Geezers of Lefty Rock and Queen Latifah looking like, well, a queen. I've been watching the hoopla and the imagery and smiling faces standing in the cold to share a moment that's like nothing we've seen in my lifetime. And for at least one moment, it feels like we --- the people with whom I've identified my entire life --- are finally, FINALLY taking back our country from the people who have done everything in their power to ruin everything these symbols have stood for...

For over three decades, we've allowed the right wing to appropriate patriotism, turning it from recognition that the vision, the dream of America is not a destination but a process --- one that needs constant tending, vigilance, and participation. It is a vision that is so easily corrupted to serve the greed of the few instead of the dreams of the many. And so it has been ever since Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew essentially declared a large segment of the population its enemy. It continued with Ronald Reagan waving the flag while talking about welfare queens and George H.W. Bush talking about a thousand points of light, because God knows he wasn't about to help anyone. It continued, albeit at a slower pace, with Bill Clinton, who compromised and triangulated his way to welfare "reform" that did nothing for the poor, and was rewarded for his efforts with an attempt at impeachment. And the son of President Thousand Points of Light did all he could to finish the job.

I wonder what it must have been like to be Pete Seeger up there today. Born in 1919, Seeger has been at the forefront of progressive activism for over sixty years. Imagine being Pete Seeger, about to celebrate your ninetieth birthday this year, and being able to be there for the inauguration for the first black president. And how cool was it that Seeger decided to restore the angry verses of "This Land is Your Land":


There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

If that didn't make you go all blubbery, you're just not human.

But after Tuesday, the real work starts --- the work of making sure this president lives up to the hopes and expectations of those of us who put him in office to not just undo the horrific damage done to this country by George Walker Bush and Dick Cheney, but to uphold the rule of law by holding them accountable for their crimes.

Cross-posted, more colloquially, at Brilliant at Breakfast.