Don C. Perdue: Spirit of America will be revisited on Nov. 6
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of a series of columns written by candidates in contested races in the Nov. 6 general election.
"Tonight You're Mine Completely."
Done in a style both dirge-like and compelling, the Amy Winehouse version of the old rock standard "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" conjures visions, for me, of Nov. 7, 2012, the day after the election.
On the previous day, the great love-affair America has had with democracy will reach another crescendo. Voters who still believe, who still feel every ripple of the flag, will reach out to touch its spirit at the polls and carry it back to their homes as an at once incredibly individual yet undeniably collective possession. America at that moment is ours "completely" and, somehow, "mine" as well. That perfect dichotomy has carried this nation for nearly 250 years to heights unprecedented in the history of the world and yielded the "last, best hope" for its future.
Of late, however, it seems America belongs to someone else. Someone who shuns his neighbor not for insult given, but for rumors of insults taken as fact. Someone who sees any disagreement as prelude to high-decibel name-calling. Someone who believes the other guy needs a descriptive (and derogatory) label simply because he doesn't wear yours on his sleeve. Someone who once visited only rarely but now has taken up residence just outside our increasingly tribal walls. Someone we know.
"Is this a lasting treasure, or just a moment's pleasure?"
It has been said that, today, America is as polarized as it has been since the Civil War. Between health care, energy policy and the economy, this house is certainly greatly divided, or at least it would seem so seen only from Left to Right. But for those who know the great Lincoln speech, you also know the next few lines and especially the phrase "I do not expect this House to fall, but I do expect that it will cease to be divided."
Lincoln's view was up and down. Bedrock foundation to shuttered eave. A view unwavering in the face of horrific internecine war or the threat, as he saw it, of any foreign power that "could not by force take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in the trial of a thousand years." Sighted from the ground and ever upward.
"So tell me now, and I won't ask again. Will you still love me tomorrow?"
So there it is, the question. The real one and the one every battleground from Bunker Hill to Baghdad has answered. Both by individual heroes and the collective heroism of a great nation.
On Nov. 6, 2012, no matter the outcome of a bitter, divisive and extraordinarily expensive political fight, we all will have the chance to express our own love of country through a gift that can't be bought but only given. On Nov. 7, we get to answer the question as generations have before us.
Yes. Forever, yes.
Don C. Perdue, a resident of Prichard, is a Democratic candidate for the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 19th District, which includes Wayne County.