Sometimes when I listen to fellow progressives, I wonder if the only lesson we took away from the '04 elections is that politics is a word game.
In the end no segregationist scheme has withstood the force of a simple idea: equality under law.
Many smart folks seem to think that if you just get your metaphors and messages right, you'll win. That if you start describing what you favor as a 'moral value' - 'affordable health care is a moral value' etc., - then you'll appeal to red-state voters.
Have you ever watched someone become American? Last week, at a national citizenship conference I organize, thirty immigrants from 17 countries swore an oath and became citizens of the United States. It was a stirring experience for the hundreds of people in the room.
'The Purpose-Driven Life' is not just a mega-bestselling work of Christian faith it is the thing that every voter, secular or not, yearns for.
Here's a proposal, offered only partly in jest: no resident of the United States, whether born here or abroad, should get to be a citizen until age 18, at which time each such resident has to take a test.
We tend to think of politics as bad, full of dirty tricks, negative ads, big campaigns, but I am here to explore the original meaning of politics, which is positive and has to do with balancing competing interests and looking for solutions.
Talk of citizenship today is often thin and tinny. The word has a faintly old-fashioned feel to it when used in everyday conversation. When evoked in national politics, it's usually accompanied by the shrill whine of a descending culture-war mortar.
True fans of the Constitution, like true fans of the national pastime, acknowledge the critical role of human judgment in making tough calls. We don't expect flawless interpretation. We expect good faith. We demand honesty.
We live in a great country. It's time again to get religion about it.
Throughout this country's history there have of course been systematic efforts to create an official underclass.
My grandfather was a general in the Nationalist Chinese Air Force during World War II, and I grew up hearing the pilot stories and seeing pictures of him in uniform.
You cannot mistake Bush's clarity of purpose. He believes in a story about freedom and opportunity that makes his followers feel like they aren't just ticking their days down but are part of something larger than themselves.
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