More than two centuries ago, on July 4th, 1776, our Founders set in motion a great experiment. They declared that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These, indeed, were revolutionary words. The struggle to realize their full meaning continues to this day.
The essence of being American is to participate in that struggle, and to do so with an impatient unwillingness to settle for less than we are capable. We strive for greatness, we break down barriers, and we insist on justice and equity, and these acts bind us as a nation. They always have. At its heart, the Declaration was a proclamation of dissatisfaction with the status quo, a recognition that things as they were had become intolerable -- and that the only way to change was to do something different.
I, like our forebears, am an unabashed and unapologetic patriot. To love our country is to seek to improve it. Great patriots have ended slavery, fought for women’s right to vote, and demanded equal protection under the law for all Americans. Nothing honors the free and equitable country our Founders imagined like arguing and agitating for its betterment -- its progress.
Despite two centuries of success, work remains. Too many children are denied the world-class education they deserve. Too many Americans cannot find the kind of work that will keep them free from poverty. And too many of our fellow-citizens, of every gender, age, and race, lack access to quality, affordable healthcare. These problems represent unacceptable impediments to the life, liberty, and happiness that constitute the American dream, and solving them will require fresh, bold solutions. To recognize this is not only progressive -- it is patriotic.