I hope you were able to celebrate our country’s 240th birthday, with parades and fireworks, picnics and family, or however you chose. Dawn and I got away for a vacation from work, and as I try to do every July 4th, I re-read the Declaration of Independence, to remember the vision and fortitude it took to steer history on a new course.
Later this month in Philadelphia, our Democratic Party will make history by nominating a woman as our presidential candidate. And of course that follows the service of the first African-American president in our country’s history, a president I believe will be remembered as one of our nation’s finest.
President Obama has noted that if you could choose to be born anytime in history, not knowing where or as whom, you’d pick today. That is, if you didn’t know what color your skin would be, or your gender, or the social or economic status of your parents, or your sexual preference, or your abilities or disabilities, or your religion, or where you’d grow up – echoes of the philosopher John Rawls’ ‘veil of ignorance’ – then you’d certainly want to choose today over any time in history. I think he’s right about that.
We may have a deep-seated human instinct to glorify or romanticize our past, both individual and collective, but we really are living, together, in the best of times thus far.
Nothing is automatic about continuing our progress – serious forces threaten to push us backwards this next election – but I’m certainly hopeful.
A couple of weeks ago I joined more than 200 mayors from around the country, meeting in Indianapolis to share ideas and find new approaches. I think you would be, as I was, encouraged to hear about excellent efforts to make cities smarter, more just, more sustainable, more prosperous, and more livable places.
We heard the Dalai Lama (and Lady Gaga!?) urge us to make cities places of more kindness. We heard from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer about the kind of human disaster that can strike at any time. We heard from young entrepreneurs pitching imaginative new solutions to stubborn old problems.
And we heard from Hillary Clinton, who challenged us to work together toward a more open, inclusive, diverse, fair society of opportunity for all. It was energizing to think about what we can do together going forward, with well-meaning, rational, empathetic, and creative leadership. I’m excited about the next four years.
I hope you and yours have a good July, and Dawn and I look forward to seeing you around Bloomington. Remember to support great candidates like Hillary Clinton, John Gregg and Christina Hale, Baron Hill, Shelli Yoder, Glenda Ritz, and all our local Democrats – the next few months will indeed help determine our future.
And mark your calendar for SUNDAY, September 11, from 4 to 7pm for the second annual Hamilton Family Picnic for Politics and BBQ.