John McCain’s farewell letter

My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.

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The Gettysburg Address

150 years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, at the consecration of a memorial to the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg. The text is transcribed here, to remember the spirit and the legacy of that day.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

This Land is Our Land (video)

This video is an expression of the ideal that in a democracy, the nation belongs to all of its people. It is our view that the power structures through which people of privilege exercise their will are no more private or wholly their own than the government itself. In a true democracy, every citizen should be committed to fostering and honoring the whole landscape of democracy.

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Fear of Difference is Opposition to Democracy

The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. It is a nation that has wrestled with vicious undercurrents of racism and xenophobia, and has emerged ever more democratic, generally trending toward a more perfect union representing the foundational ideals that were, in the 18th century, so far out of reach, but so necessary as core aspirations. And over time, it is a nation that has become richer, stronger and more democratic, by getting closer to those foundational ideals.

In advocating for the most effective way to form a new democratic nation in Argentina, Juan Bautista Alberdi wrote that Argentina should follow the example of the United States and encourage major waves of immigration, because the resulting society, with a large population, with diverse backgrounds and a commitment to building something new, will make for a more sustainable and democratic republic.

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To Honor the Consent of the Governed

Today, the pro-democracy protest movement that began to put down roots in Egypt’s public life on January 25, 2011, at Midan Tahrir (or Liberation Square) in central Cairo, not only continued its expansion across the capital and throughout the nation, but achieved one of its major political aims: the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled as an authoritarian strongman for thirty years, without ever lifting the emergency laws that allowed him to crush dissent and marginalize political opposition.

February 11, 2011, must be remembered as a day when human decency and justice won out over the arbitrary acts of autocrats and torturers. Today must be remembered as a day when the idea that the only legitimate government is one that is formed with the consent of the governed was again affirmed by a diverse and impassioned political center demanding basic respect for fundamental values and the ethical treatment of all people.

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