- Posted February 15, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Letter to Congress and the president from a proud American
A look at the state of the Union
When I was in fourth grade, I learned about the establishment of the United States of America and the great individuals who founded this nation. In fact, my teacher had us – a group of 10-year-olds – participate in a mock Constitutional Convention in which we had to express what we thought was best for the country and then compromise. Comprise, she said, was key.
My name is Allison Hammond, and I am a student at the University of Kansas. My grade school and high school education created in me a true appreciation for American history. Sometimes, I am awed by the fact that this great, powerful nation grew from 13 colonies. The history of this country is a testament to the American spirit.
Yesterday in my History of Western Civilization class, my professor lectured about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and I was reminded of why I am proud to be an American. I am writing today to explain why I had forgotten that I am proud to be an American and how I believe the rest of this country’s citizens can, too, be reminded how lucky we are to live in the United States.
At the end of 2012, I read reports of a deadlocked Congress – a Congress that had a responsibility to the people who voted for its members to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty and prosperity that so many take for granted. Congress had a deadline before the government would go over the fiscal cliff, but representatives, at least to the average observer, seemed to only be invested in their own interests. Thus, the deadline passed without resolution.
Every day, the media reports on issues important to the American people. These are issues the populace would want to see progress on, but again, Congress is so deadlocked that nothing changes. No matter what one’s party affiliation or personal beliefs are, we can all agree that deadlock gets us nowhere.
At times, it seems like the politicians we elect to serve in Washington, D.C. are not only miles away in physical distance but are miles away in understanding – or caring about – what the people back home want. We elect them to be our voices in government, but it feels as though they would rather argue with colleagues than fix the problems that plague our nation. We all know the problems – they are the ones discussed in every speech and every election. We vote for people to fix the problems, and we return to the next election voting for people to fix the same issues.
It is hard to remain proud to be an American with the political situation like this. But then yesterday, I was reminded of our country’s roots, and I was reminded of what led us here and made us great.
I have been to Jamestown, Yorktown, Richmond and Washington, D.C. I have seen the places and documents that helped define the birth of our country. I have read about the likes of Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison, who brought the colonies together and set the country in motion. It was a country that began at the bottom of the world totem pole and made the unbelievable climb to the top. Faced with division and strife, these Founding Fathers created the United States of America.
How? As my professor said yesterday, “They understood the art of politics is the art of compromise.”
Currently, I work at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansan. The mission of the Dole Institute is to promote political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bi-partisan, balanced manner. When Bob Dole was in Congress, he was known for compromise – he understood that the art of politics is the art of compromise between Republicans and Democrats. And things happened. Progress was made. Despite having his own strong beliefs, Dole compromised because he knew it was important for the future of the American people and of the United States.
Now, I know politics and progress are not easy. I understand that it takes more than compromise to fix everything. But in order to maintain this country’s strength for my generation and the ones that follow, in order to make it so future fourth-graders still feel proud when conducting a mock Constitutional Convention, we must build on the bones that made this country great, that made this country defy all the odds, and that gave this country everything that makes me proud to be an American. And that starts with compromise.