Jason Gibbs | Reflecting on America’s Birthday

Jason Gibbs
Jason Gibbs

Earlier this month, America celebrated her 247th birthday, and across the country citizens turned out in massive numbers to show off their patriotism! 

People from all walks of life and political views parked their partisanship and rhetoric and celebrated the creation of our incredible country! For many of us, the Fourth of July also included barbecues, family gatherings, and here locally, watching the city of Santa Clarita’s “Spirit of America” fireworks show that served as the culmination of another year of our republic and the great “American Experiment.”

After the parades had finished, and the last spark of the fireworks faded into the night, and we all settle back into our routines, it is difficult to overlook the onslaught of articles, opinions, and stories that American pride is declining. 

A recent Gallup poll among U.S. adults has shown that American pride in the last 20 years has declined, from 90% to 67%. Heightened and constant focus of political division at a macro level, social unrest and a seemingly never-ending distribution of blame with no admittance of accountability continues to produce disillusionment, despair and disenfranchisement of people from those who serve them. 

But what happened? 

Twenty years ago, divisions and unrest certainly existed in some form or fashion, but Americanism and pride in our country still stood strong.

Americanism, at its heart, is a belief in the power and sacredness of freedom, equality and justice. It was this spirit at the roots of our founding that guided America through great adversity and moved us forward. It is the understanding that with the best and noblest of intentions, imperfections exist. The preamble even recognizes this fact, as our country did not seek to be perfect, but desired to form a “more perfect” union than what existed at the time of our founding. 

Societal changes, external influences and an immediate, responsive and passionate medium for information hits harder than ever at the core of our country, and the barrage of harm and hurt seen in these echo chambers has cast a dark cloud over the success, the love and the help found throughout this land in times of struggle. 

In the halls of government across this land, we acknowledge the reality that individuals and groups did not, and in some cases do not, enjoy the constitutional gifts granted to all who call America home. 

But acknowledging this reality is not a surrender to failing ideals! It is simply meant to call upon all of us to reaffirm and invigorate our core principles, and remember the constitutional rights that made America an exceptional nation. When we blame the principles, and not the people who spoil and adjust them for political or personal reasons, we allow the erosion of the dreams and hopes that America was built on. 

When we let civil discourse and the breakdown of simple truths in order to create new meanings to rights, freedom and equality, then institutions obtain new power to sow seeds of cynicism among us all, and paint a country with a brush it does not deserve.

But despite it all, as a community, we face these challenges, and must not lose sight of the resilience and tenacity that has characterized the American spirit throughout our history. It is a history replete with times of transcending divisions, breaking down adversity and regaining lost rights that were taken away by abused notions of “common sense” through the perversion, or worse, dismissal, of our Constitution. 

Our history teaches us progress is not linear, and setbacks are also opportunities, so that proper reflection and remembrance of what makes us great can be rediscovered.

If the American spirit is to be rekindled, it will take the work of us all. Engaging in open and respectful dialogue, finding balance and listening to the diversity of thought while respecting the diversity of moral and principle foundations of the individual, and understanding that one-sided reasoning will forever just produce single-sided results — and our state and our country is far more complex than that.

While we see a decline in American patriotism, let’s all look to see the potential incline that exists for an American renewal. Republicans and Democrats can acknowledge challenges, hardships, failures, but we must also acknowledge achievements and successes, to show that we can, and we are, embodying the American spirit, even if for a moment, we forget that we are. 

I hope you all found a way to be grateful and hopeful when celebrating America’s birthday and may we all see that the true essence of Americanism in not remembering times from the past, but in manifesting the dreams for tomorrow.

Jason Gibbs is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council. “Right Here, Right Now” appears Saturdays and rotates among local Republicans.

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