This is kind of obvious, I think, for those who deal in the field I do, but America’s entire idea is wrapped up in recapturing for itself a state that never existed. This is a powerful evocation of that state, but it is the same evocation that has rung through American history for decades, centuries.
In short: the idealized America is that envisioned in the nebulous Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident: All men are created equal…”) The Constitution is the imperfectly realized ideal of the Declaration (replete with slavery). America from this point forth is a society attempting to grapple with its fall from this Eden. That’s why the eternal American quest is to create “a more perfect union.” Perfect because that’s what the founding statement envisaged. More perfect because that’s what America was never able to become.
I agree entirely, and I in fact don’t see how an American can be a patriot without embracing that fact, regardless of one’s political ideals. That’s (in part) what I tried to get across when I wrote about Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” last year, the single piece of recent writing I’m both most embarrassed by and most proud of, if that makes any sense.
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