Thank you for being home. This is the last Fourth of July before my years lived on your soil would exceed the years I spent in my place of birth.
You were there for me when I came into my own as an adult. You were there for me when everything I thought I knew about the world came crashing down. Again and again. You were there when I first fell in love. You were there when I fell out of it. You were there when I thought I conquered the world. You were there when the illusion proved to be just that.
Now you’re on a precipice, an inflection point where some of the dark forces of history threaten to upend the entire American project. You’re in trouble. You’re plagued by sclerotic leadership so polarized that gridlock is the natural order of things. Trust in your institutions have been eroding. Your Fourth Estate has shown itself too eager to play Fifth Column. Your higher education system, whose degrees are most coveted in the world, have lost its global standing. And the people – the American people – are too divided, demoralized and ill-prepared to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.
But I still see you. I see your fundamentals etched into the Constitution and I still see glimpses of the American spirit more than any news media would like to acknowledge exists. I love every ideal you stand for. I love how easily we can reckon with our failures whenever we fall short of those ideals. I hope that you can be for others what you have always been to me, but to get there, there’s going to be a lot of work ahead.
Above all, I love you and won’t shy away from saying it. Because things have gotten so complicated that such a benign declaration is now treated with suspicion and contempt.
Happy birthday, America. And Happy Fourth of July to all of you!