This year I've resolved to feel good about the fourth of July. There's no benefit to being the family crank at barbecues and weddings, after all. Yesterday I even watched the FOX News channel, with its ubiquitous American flag graphics, and nonetheless felt right with the world. Today, the vascular integrity of my brain thanked me.
For the engaged citizen, the United States can be a stroke-inducing affair, indeed. But there's no reason to lose sensation or mobility in the left hemisphere of your body if you don't have to. America was founded on the idea that concentrated power is dangerous and deserves to be challenged--overthrown, I think they said. Any conservative worth his weight in ethnic-stereotypes will concede at least this much. And that leaves all of us with a lot more to say to each other.
Last night I ate dinner with a libertarian I like to call my cousin. One might not expect much to be shared between two family members, one who believes in expanding social programs and another who wants to dismantle them. But while I don't know a lot about right-libertarianism beyond Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, I'm pretty sure they would both roll over in their respective graves if they saw the terrific sham masquerading as "free-trade" today: socialized market protection for the wealthy and powerful (e.g. government bailouts), and market "discipline" for the poor (e.g. politically imposed third-world debt). Honest conservatives understand this; at least, that's the theory Ralph Nader is banking his "I'll-draw-from-the-right, too" presidential campaign on: classical liberals and conservatives have more in common with each other than they do with either wing of the American corporatist party, which advocates socialism for the privileged, owning classes, and "less government" for the rest of us.
The tradition of one person, one vote is much older than the tradition of one dollar, one vote. The United States was founded on ideals that ordinary people, in pursuing their own mutual benefit, make real when their leaders don't--by challenging power and authority in the traditional, American way.