Truth be told: Frustrating change is what defines us as a nation

Ami Fields-Meyer

Political Columnist

I’m Ami and I’ll be writing a column about politics every few weeks in this section of The Roar. I write a political blog called Truth Be Told ( and post new pieces several times a week.

A four-year-old got angry and dragged her ruby-red crayon all over my computer screen. That’s what the map on my MacBook Pro looked like on Election Night: a fresh coat of crimson Crayola. And, as four-year-olds are known to do, she colored outside of the lines. It’s messy, it’s uncalled for, and I’m feeling a complex combination of overwhelming emotions.

I’m angry that Republicans have retaken the House. I’m worried that the poor will be left to fend for themselves, that special-interest groups will determine the fate of our economy, that Congress will decide to regulate who can love whom, and that energy reform will manifest itself in the form of tax breaks for pollution-prone companies. I’m baffled by such an abrupt shift in popular ideology and loss of faith in new policies that haven’t yet had the chance to prove or disprove themselves. I’m concerned that my new speaker, John Boehner, is getting a little too much sun.

I’m terrified. I’m on the edge of my seat. I’m bellowing vitriolic insults at a Sony flat-screen television. But in the face of such severe inner-ire, there’s something that I must concede.

If there’s one thing that I learned on Tuesday night–regardless of the magnitude of my outrage–it’s that we live in an incredible country, the likes of which the world has rarely seen. The “city on a hill” phenomenon–the idea of American exceptionalism in its traditional context–is not what I’m pointing to. I’m not saying that economically or socially, culturally or educationally, commercially or religiously, America is any more “exceptional” than the next country. What’s incredible, however, is that the same ethos of cyclical change that ushered in the would-be era of liberal influence in 2008, became its roadblock tonight. And that, even an angry-off liberal must admit, is exceptional.

There are countries in this world that have held the same leaders (or whose leaders have held them) for decades–generations. A steady capacity for change, in all its ambiguity and disappointing two-sidedness, is a remarkable achievement.

Taking a good, hard look at the shifts in influence from the beginning of the Clinton era to the dawn of the Gingrich era to the beginning of the Bush era to the dawn of the Pelosi era to the beginning of the Obama era to the dawn of what may prove to be the Boehner era, one realizes what American freedom really means.

There’s been no violence, there’s been no bloodshed, and in an undisputed, clear-cut manner, the tables have very dramatically turned. The elasticity of the potential for power to shift in the United States is a present-day embodiment of Constitutional freedom and proof that Lincoln’s government “of the people, by the people, for the people” has not perished from the earth.

“Frustrated” doesn’t begin to describe it. I’m worried about the economy, just as I’m anxious about the well-being of the environment. I’m worried about the future of welfare and Social Security. I’m worried about racial profiling. I’m worried about a second subprime mortgage crisis. But paramount above that extraordinary frustration, there’s only one thing that I can coherently verbalize: God bless America.

Featured image: Stanford Daily News