Posts Tagged ‘civic duty’

Harold and Kumar score one more for the US of A

August 24, 2008

I finally managed to see the new Harold and Kumar movie last week, and now that I’ve finished moving into my new apartment, I finally have the time to write a few things about it. I won’t attempt a review; the film is as endearingly wacky as its predecessor, if not as tightly plotted, but the reader has at her disposal any number of resources to learn more.

No, what I’d rather write is what I took to be the central message of the film, and why I found it so bad-ass wicked awesome. And also sweet.

Near the end of the movie, a pot-addled interpretation of a certain political leader (I won’t spoil it for the unitiated, except to say his name rhymes with “tush”) tells our heroes, “You don’t have to trust your government to be a good American. You just have to trust your country.” That may sound incredible coming at the end of a story about two young men wrongly interred at Guantanamo Bay, but it falls squarely at the heart of the matter, both in the movie and in the real world.

The basic outlilne of the government of the United States is enshrined in the Constitution. In a very real sense, the Constitution is the United States, because therein are laid out the principles upon which the nation is built: rule by the people, equal protection under the law, freedom of expression, et cetera. When the character mentioned above calls on us not to trust our government, he is reminding us that the tenets of governance prescribed in the Constitution are not perfect, and that they are not set in stone. When he tells us, however, that we are to trust our country, he is calling us to place our faith in the principles upon which the government must ideally rest, central among which is the ability to amend and improve them.

In the midst of the diarrhea jokes and pot binges, the Harold and Kumar movies are at heart a love letter to the United States of America. In spite of all the adversity, both realistic and absurd, that our heroes face, they never fail to stand up for their right to pursue their dreams. In the US, it is true in principle that anyone, whether their ancestors be European, African, Korean, Indian, or Neil Patrick Harris, can achieve their aims. It’s on all of us to create a nation where this is true in fact as well.


Have you voted yet?

June 3, 2008

Primary season is nearly over.  The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight, and soon we will all breathe the free air, feel the sunlight on our faces, and stretch our weary limbs, before we dive into the long, dark tunnel of campaigning before November.

Of course, that holds only if you’re not registered in Montana or South Dakota.

The last primary elections of the season take place today in these two states. If you live in either one of them, and you haven’t voted yet, what are you waiting for? I just got back myself, and everyone at the polling station was at least thirty years my elder. That ain’t right. Get out there and exercise your civic muscles!

I do have to confess a minor electoral sin, however. I had focused so much of my attention on the presidential race that I had neglected to inform myself on local issues. I stood in the ballot box, confidently filling in little ovals, until I was faced with something I did not foresee: four candidates for Montana Superintedent of Public Instruction. I gasped. I did not recognize a single name. What to do?

I’m ashamed to admit that I voted for the first name in the list. I checked her website once I returned home, and thankfully she wasn’t in favor of tattooing kids with barcodes or teaching creationism or anything. The point, however, is that you never know, so please inform yourself of the issues before voting. Don’t make the mistake I made!

Happy voting!