On this 4th of July, I reflect on the things about this country that I love. I do not think this country is perfect, but I love this country for the great history of reform that has expanded the reach of the bill of rights to an ever expanding reach of people. The abolitionists, woman's suffragists, labor organizers, civil rights activists, feminists, LGBT activists, immigrant rights activists and the countless radicals and reformers have helped us to redefine what it means to be an American. These activists did the hard work of petitioning, organizing, educating and persuading our Presidents, our Congress, and public opinion to new directions that have helped us to live up to our highest ideals. This inspired a cartoon I did for the February 19, 2013 edition of the Philippines Today.
When we see the divisive issues that cause the gridlock in Congress, it had made many people waver in their faith in a democratic republic. Our country has always had divisive arguments and philosophical disagreements, from the great political battles between the Federalists and Republicans in the 1790s, the fight between northern states and the slave-holding south in the 1860s, the fight of Progressives and Big Business in the 1890s and early 1900s, the debate between New Deal liberals and small government conservatives in the 1930s. Democracy is messy, and it is frequently frustrating. But it's still the best form of government we have.
In this country, we are free to believe what we want and to express our opinions without fear of harassment. I do not agree with many of the tenets of the Tea Party, but I do admire their willingness to get involved in issues that they deeply believe in. Instead of just complaining or giving up, they exercised their rights as Americans to organize, to petition and to lobby their representatives for causes they believe in. Immigrants rights activists and marriage equality activists have persisted these past few years in fighting for reform despite legislative setbacks. All of us should get involved so if we feel strongly about a political issue.
Even if you are not a political person, there are nonpolitical opportunities to be involved in your community and to give back. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or walk to raise funds for cure for cancer. You can bake cookies for a church sale or pack books for the Friends of the Library. A democracy functions best when its citizens are instilled with a sense of civic activism.
John F. Kennedy said in his Inaugural Address, "And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." We should all be involved in our communities and in the concerns of our country.
Here are some youtube videos that I found of political and civic activists over the years
An immigration reform rally on April 2013 in Washington D.C.
A 2013 Marriage Equality rally at the steps of the Supreme Court
The Stand With Texas Women Rally at the Capitol in Austin on July 1st, 2013
A Voting Rights Act Rally in Washington D.C.
An Americorps video about the opportunities for national service
The work of Downtown Streets Team to help fight homelessness
The 2013 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
A day at Miriam's Kitchen, a soup kitchen in Washington
If you enjoy this cartoon, take a look at these links for more of my political cartoons at Everyday Citizen. You could also join my Jasper the Cat facebook page. If you'd like to email me, you can write a comment at email@example.com
A Cartoon on Government Surveillance
Jasper and Homeless Bob
Two Cartoons on the Economy
Two Cartoons on the Church
Jasper and the Church
Jasper and the Tea Partier
Jasper Writes A Blog
Conversations During The Holidays
Jasper and the Cop
The Parents Visit the Occupation
Cartoons About Occupy Wall Street
Jasper and the Moderate Republican
Obama and the Republicans
Jasper And the Homeless Veteran
Jasper Celebrates the 4th of July
>Jasper Meets Howard Zinn
Jasper and the Nature Poem
Government and the Market Economy
Jasper Joins Two Protests
Bob the Nerd Vampire
Jasper Debates War
Jasper Finds His Way Home
Jasper Escapes the Detention Center
Jasper At A Detention Center
Jasper Meets a Poet
Jasper Tackles Health Care
Jasper Protests the War
Jasper and the Economy
Jasper Sings a Protest Song
The Road To Health Care Reform Cartoon
A Cartoon about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
A Cartoon about My Experience in an Evangelical Church
A Cartoon about Political Debate
A Cartoon On Gay Marriage