Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Obama’s Victory Revives the Pride We’ve Always Felt

Following Barack Obama’s historic election victory last week, between the jubilation outside the White House, the car horns and the refrains of patriotic songs throughout D.C., between the celebrations across many other U.S. cities and much of the rest of the world, there was another familiar refrain heard in countless interviews, conversations between friends and class discussions:

“I’m finally proud to be an American.”

This may be an understandable sentiment as the George W. Bush era comes to a close, particularly given that, for young people especially, these last eight years haven’t given us the most becoming or confidence-inspiring introduction to American politics. I myself sang the national anthem outside the White House on election night with a passion I’ve never really, consciously felt for “The Star-Spangled Banner” – and not just because my candidate won.

What we’ve done in this country, in decisively placing our faith in Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a Kenyan goatherder, to guide us through two wars, an economic crisis and a tipping point for our climate, is truly remarkable, and indeed something to be proud of.

But were we not proud to be Americans last Monday?

We live in one of the longest-standing constitutional democracies in the world, founded on the agreement among disparate people on the fundamental values of freedom, liberty, equality and self-governance. For much of our history, we’ve been less successful in the actual practice of these values – indeed, several periods in American history show a failure to do any justice for our founding principles. Still, have these principles not transcended any dark period in our history, any poor or controversial decision made by one political party or another? Despite countless political differences, is the commonly accepted belief in these principles not a testament to their enduring vitality, regardless of who may be in power?

Through turbulent times and uneven moments in our history, this country has been sustained because the people of the United States have never wavered in their pride for it. Belief in who we are as a country stitched the nation back together after the Civil War. It gave women the vote, and helped to engineer the Civil Rights Movement. Pride for what it means to live in the United States of America motivates us to fix this country where we feel it needs to be fixed, rather than simply moving someplace else.

Whether or not you supported Barack Obama, his candidacy was inspiring to many people because it reestablished the belief among a number of his supporters that those who love their country can change it. We voted for Obama, made calls and knocked on doors for him because we were proud to be Americans – so proud that we wanted to make sure Obama was the one to represent our hopes for the future.

The joy in the streets last Tuesday night didn’t just come out of nowhere. The jumping, the dancing, the hugs and the choruses of “America the Beautiful” – it was all part of a deeper, longstanding and more meaningful pride: a latent pride that was waiting for a chance to manifest itself. Had we not been proud of our country in the first place and merely disappointed in its previous direction, no election victory would have made a difference. We’d be sitting at home, emotionless.

Happy as we may be that our next president will share our political views, supporters of the president-elect must be careful not to confuse a more basic pride for our country with pride for the actions of our country, or the people of our country.

I was not proud of the American people when we re-elected George Bush, and I certainly won’t be proud of our citizens if we ever vote for any ticket that includes Sarah Palin. But my pride for the United States, our flag and the values that the flag represents will never be diminished.

any Democrats hailed Obama’s victory, combined with expanded majorities in both houses of Congress, as a new mandate for a liberal agenda. But we must also remember that power is fleeting, and that one day there will be another Republican president and another Republican Congress. Some day, conservatives who also love their country will change it again in the way they see fit. And when that happens we must remember that we should not be proud of America only when people with whom we agree are in control. When we disagree, we should be as passionate as ever: not because we’re ashamed to be Americans, but because we’re proud enough to express our opinions. And when we do find success and our efforts pay off, we should be happy: not because we weren’t proud before, but because we were always proud, and it led us to do great things.

att Buccelli is a sophomore in the College.

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