On this Fourth of July, Here’s Hoping that American Democracy Will Overcome

’s Also Hoping that Bernie Sander’s Revolution and the Youth Movement it has Inspired Will Prevail in America, in Canada and around the World

A Commentary by Doug Draper

Posted July 4th, 2018 on Niagara At Large

One of America’s greatest literary figures, Mark Twain, once wrote; “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

More than a hundred years after Twain put those words on paper, they are excellent ones to embrace not only in the United States, but right here in Canada.

We Canadians have often looked upon expressions of American patriotism as being mindless and misdirected in the sense of; ‘an attack against our president is an attack against our country,’ and loud and showy to the point of being annoying and obnoxious.

I found none of that on a recent trip to visit friends on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. All the way there and back, and found people who feel embarrassed and ashamed of how their nation must look in the eyes of the world, and who wonder out loud of the great American experiment in democracy is going to survive.

Even those I met who were life-long Republicans and who confessed to voting for Trump because they couldn’t do Hillary expressed some doubt and concern about what is now going down.

One of the biggest selling books in the United States right now is ‘The Soul of America – The Battle for our Better Angels’ by historian Jon Meacham, and a postcard I found in a retail store on the Cape featured a list of the ‘Early Warning Signs of Fascism’.

Among the warning signs on the list are; “powerful and continuing nationalism,” “identification of enemies as a unifying cause”,  “rampant sexism,” “controlled mass media,” “obsession with national security,” “supremacy of the military,” “disdain for intellectuals and the arts,” “religion and government intertwined,” “labour power supressed,” “obsession with crime and punishment,” and “rampant cronyism and corruption.”

For those of you who, like me, probably spend too much of our time following the mad antics of Donald Trump, how many of those warning signs can you identify with?

Some of my friends on the Cape, all life-long America ns, have become so despondent over what is now going on that they think their country is toast.

For their sake, and for the sake of a world now being rattled by the madman in the White House, let’s hope that is not true.

Let’s hope that America is a mature enough democracy at this point that, unlike countries like Russia that have had little practice with it, cannot be destroyed by an autocrat like Putin or Trump.

There are hopeful signs in how much the spectre of Trump and all of his anger and hatred and fascist ways have awakened an active resistance not seen in that country since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s.

There was the largest women’s march in history, filling the streets and malls of Washington, D.C. and other cities around the world right after Trump’s inauguration. There have been large scale marches against Trump’s immigration policies, his withdrawal from global efforts to address climate change, and there are those wonderful energized and articulate students and survivors of a mass shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida who are continuing a nation-wide campaign against gun violence.

Some of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting at a school who have launched a nation-wide campaign against America’s gun lobby

In American politics, there are whole new generations of young people – many of them inspired by the miraculous, outside-of-the-mainstream presidential campaign of an older, self-declared democratic socialist named Bernie Sanders in 2016, who are amped up now and are taking on and taking out establishment candidates in both the Republican and Democratic Parties that sold their souls to corporate lobbyists.

I walked through parking lots on the Cape and saw bumper stickers on cars reading; “Bernie 2020.” Yes, there is a cross-country campaign to get Bernie Sanders to run for president again, and with the Hillary Clinton Wall Street interests out of the way or at least weakened this time, maybe even win.

One of the many ‘March for our Lives’ rallies the Parkland students have inspired – this one last March in Buffalo, New York

In a recent July 1st, 2018 edition of the Sunday New York Times, the front page of the newspaper’s editorial section featured an article on these younger political activists called “Millennial Socialists Are Coming” noting that a majority of younger Democrats between the ages of 18 and 34, according to surveys, “view socialism positively.”

Bernie Sanders at a 2016 rally in the Buffalo, New York area. Not one aging Baby Boomer or grump old white people in the crowd out there.

“The combination of the Great Recession, the rising cost of education, the unreliability of health insurance and the growing precariousness of the workplace,” continues the New York Times article, “has left young people with gnawing material insecurity. They have no memory of the widespread failure of Communism, but the failures of capitalism are all around them.”

Cheering Bernie and a “Future to Believe In” on

These young people are engaged and full of zeal to rebuild their communities into places that are health and affordable for everyone to live in, concludes the article. “And they’re coming” whether the current leaders of mainstream political parties “like it or not.”

Let’s hope they are coming in large enough numbers in the United States and in Canada, for that matter, to rattle the foundations of the status quo, including members of my Baby Boomer who have a lot to answer for the mess we have made of regional, national and global economies, of international relations, and of this planet’s oceans, atmosphere and what’s left of its green places.

It is high time for these young people to come in and for the rest of us, as the old Bob Dylan song goes, to lend them a hand or get the hell out of the way.

That’s something all of us who believe in true democracy and a better world for everyone, can hope and pledge to fight for on this Fourth of July.

NIAGARA AT LARGE encourages you to join the conversation by sharing your views on this post in the space following the Bernie Sanders quote below.

A reminder that we only post comments by individuals who also share their first and last names.

For more news and commentary from Niagara At Large – an independent, alternative voice for our greater bi-national Niagara region – become a regular visitor and subscriber to NAL at www.niagaraatlarge.com .

“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders


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