Things That I Love About America: The First Amendment

During the Fourth of July I try to recount some of the things that I love about this country. One of the things that I love is the First Amendment of our Constitution. The First Amendment guarantees the Freedom of Religion, the Freedom of Speech, the Freedom of the Press, the right of people to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Thomas Jefferson was not able to attend the Constitutional Convention because he was serving as American ambassador to France, but he and Virginia delegate George Mason insisted that a bill of rights be included in the Constitution. James Madison had initially opposed the inclusion of a bill of rights, but he then worked on and lobbied for the Bill of Rights to assuage the fears of Anti-federalists and to assure passage of the Constitution.

In these hyper-partisan times, we often look down on those who disagree with us. But for a democratic republic to work, we need to be able to work with people who have very different views and perspectives to work on solutions to the problems that plague this nation. The Founding Fathers worked on the assumption that no one group or ideology has a monopoly on truth. Progressives are right some of the time and wrong some of the time. Moderates are right on some things and wrong on other things. Conservatives are right some of the time and wrong some of the time. And the same can be said about democratic socialists, libertarians, and most other ideologies.

Authoritarian governments try to intimidate, silence or kill those who have differing views. Right wing dictatorships try to jail or kill off all leftists. Left wing totalitarian governments try to kill off or jail conservatives. In a healthy democratic republic, people with differing views debate on their various proposals on how to solve a problem, find common ground when those debates reach an impasse, and compromise and craft laws that will try to solve the problem.

All reforms will be imperfect. Whether it’s liberal reforms like the New Deal or the Great Society, or conservative reforms like the Reagan Revolution, you’ll see that some of the reforms worked well and some didn’t. All reform is a series of trial and error: we see what works and learn lessons on what doesn’t work, and we craft new reforms to fix and course correct. All healthy democracies are a perpetual state of debate and reform.

I’m hoping we eventually move away from these hyper-partisan times. When I watch some right wing or left wing commentary programs, the commentators teach the viewers to disdain those with differing views and they try to obliterate any potential areas of common ground. That is dangerous for a democracy.

When we look at the best of our political leaders, they are able to form friendships with those on the opposite end of the political spectrum. Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams were close friends even though Jefferson was a Republican and the Adams were Federalists. Conservative Barry Goldwater and liberal George McGovern became close friends in spite of their differing views on the Vietnam War and on the role of government. Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican Gerald Ford became close friends in spite of a contentious 1976 presidential election. Liberal Ted Kennedy and conservative Orrin Hatch were close friends who worked on important legislation like The American With Disabilities Act, the Ryan White Act, the Children’s Health Insurance Act.

About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He did a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippine News Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 and 2018 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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