Where Is The Passion That Defined America?

There is no dearth of heated rhetoric in America today, but starkly absent from debate is passion. Passion comes from deep-set convictions, a belief in ideals that would make the world a better place. Impassioned debate leads to compromise, an acceptance that each must give a little so that all may be better off than they were before.

President Nixon once said “Americans admire a people who can scratch a desert and produce a garden. The Israelis have shown qualities that Americans identify with: guts, patriotism, idealism, a passion for freedom.” Those qualities, however, are of no use without a shared vision and a common goal.

There has been no era in American history in which we came even close to being one big happy family. We have set aside our differences from time to time to defend our common welfare, but the instant the storm subsided the family feud resumed. Beneath it all, however, was a passion to build a better future.

Only when extremism has gained control have we ever stepped backwards. Regardless of its position, extremism is enervating and counterproductive. When our thinking becomes so rigid that it is incapable entertaining ideas contrary to our own, we back ourselves into an all-or-nothing corner from which we can only lash out at anyone and everyone who approaches.

Nothing constructive can come from that, as is evident in the vitriol so pervasive today. We are rapidly falling into a modern version of the McCarthy era; as fanaticism becomes confused with zealotry we lose sight of what America is.

We are America, each and every one of us together as a whole. From those on Wall Street to those who occupy Wall Street. From Liberals to Conservatives to Libertarians to Anarchists. From those living in Beverly Hills to those living under a bridge. From those whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower to those who disembarked only yesterday.

Each of us has one and only one vote, and only we can say whether our votes are for sale. Our government remains but an extension of the American people, Americans themselves with no more power than we choose to afford them.

America has become its own worst enemy. We have lost sight of the greatest three words of our Constitution: “We the people.” Once again we are being called upon to put our differences aside and join together with guts, patriotism, idealism, and passion for freedom to move our nation forward.

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