My favorite thing about any U.S. history class is that no matter when you study it, the problems, concerns, and goals of our government remain the same. Of course we are living in a continually evolving society in which old terms take on new meanings, but the heart of it all lies within the idea of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The United States pioneered this idea of giving a voice to the people, an idea which countless countries have long since working to achieve. I think we sometimes take for granted how remarkable it is that our founding fathers and the framers of the Constitution were able to create living documents that were able to govern the American people regardless of time period. To foresee the problems a democratic society may face so many years in advance is a gift, and the brilliants minds of colonial America were able to structure a government that tailors to these specific needs.
I don’t believe that to appreciate this concept one has to be a devout historian or even like studying American history. In fact, the reason that our democratic society is so functional is because we are not all passionate historians who aspire to be politicians and carry out these beloved principles. It is our individual desires that make our democratic society a success because these desires motivate us to challenge ideas and become great artists, scientists, or writers. We are leaders in our own right, and the United States government makes it possible to have both controlled national power as well as smaller divisions of power that are led by ordinary citizens.
Maybe this is the real American dream. The dream to be a leader, a champion, a protector of natural rights. In other countries, being a leader is dangerous, a calculated risk, within a society. The choice to be or not to be a leader sometimes leaves the life of individuals hanging in the balance. People risk their safety and their freedom to lead their people. We do not fear this in United States like in other places. Perhaps we have learned from great crusades led by Dr. Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez that people should not live in fear of persecution for rising to positions of leadership. This is a new freedom that the founding fathers may never have believed to exist: the freedom for every individual to be a leader.