Bethany [my wife] is sitting in the background watching 1776, and I'm pondering the 4th of July. Independence Day, the day that the first 2 signatories of that declaration put their names on the dotted line. I'm far too cynical to buy into the myth - American independence was started by rich men who wanted more and found Britain standing in their way, no more, no less. But even if you believe, as I do, that the Declaration is just a well written piece of propaganda... it's a great piece of propaganda. And it's easy to understand how people buy into the myth. If anything, that Americans do so wholeheartedly when the Declaration so fully espouses human equality and self-worth should be a source of hope.
But what you can say about it is that it's still a country of ideals.
Those ideals have never been realised, but even in their phantasmic form, people are still called to what the Declaration and Constitution represent. Equality, justice, freedom, and individual self worth. Looking at America today, it's pretty hard to believe that those ideals are still alive at all - as Billmon says above, tribalism and "I'm better than you," nationalism seems to have taken over. But people here still believe in it. And people around the world, even if they've never heard of the Declaration, still believe in its principles. That's cause for celebration, of a sort. A dream, still, but hopefully one that won't die for a while, and even one which, if we're very, very lucky may actually one day exist.
Cross Posted to Taxation Without Representation.