As we celebrate our nation's independence, now is a good day to commit some time to preserving the values and principles that make our nation great. Here are three things you can do:
1. Register To Vote: The cornerstone of our democracy is the right to vote. Make sure that you are registered, and commit to registering five other people to vote. To assist in this effort, use the Obama campaign's great website with state-by-state information on how to get registered and how to vote on election day.
2. Protect the Right to Vote: As we've explained previously, conservatives have launched an all out attack on voting rights. Even though voter fraud is far rarer than UFO sightings or being struck and killed by lighting, a number of states have passed or are trying to pass voter ID laws and other provisions designed to make it more difficult to vote or to register to vote. If you live in a state with a voter ID law, help other people get the IDs they need by using these state-by-state guides or by setting up an a voter ID assistance project in your area.
3. Read About Our Nation's Principles: As columnist E.J. Dionne recently explained, it is important that progressives understand our nation's history and the values upon which our nation is based. Those values go far beyond the rugged individualism that conservatives obsess over, and also include the belief that we the people are all in this together to make a more perfect union and a better society. Today is a good time to go back and read our nation's cornerstone documents so that we can all remember what it is that we are working to preserve and improve with our involvement in our nation's political system.
The National Archives has set up a Charters of Freedom website where you can read and learn more about key documents in our nation's history. We recommend reading over at least the three key ones – the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence.
And if you would like to read more about those documents and what they do and should mean for our society today, we'd recommend checking out the writings of Yale University law professor Akhil Reed Amar. Professor Amar has written three especially good books on our nation's cornerstone documents – America's Constitution: A Biography, The Bill of Rights, Creation and Reconstruction, and For the People: What the Constitution Really Says About Your Rights. If you are looking for some informative reading about the values and aspirations our nation was founded upon, give Professor Amar's books a read.