This Is Not The America I Recognize From The Back Of All Those State Quarters

What has happened to our country?

I look around and I see a nation divided. I see a nation at war with the very tenets of freedom that it once swore to protect. And, in the face of such darkness, I can’t help but wonder if, perhaps, our country has become permanently corrupted.

This is not the America I recognize from the back of all those state quarters.

Nowadays, it seems like everywhere you go there’s some sort of controversy. In the streets of New York, thousands of protestors march daily against the policies of President Trump. And on the highways of Arkansas, “Lock Her Up” billboards can still be seen for miles on end.

This is not the America that we were promised–the America on the back of all those commemorative state quarters from 18 years ago. The ones with all the pictures on them.

The America that I recognize is a land of hope and unlimited potential. A land where all fifty of its equally-great states are all equally-important.

And all worth exactly 25 cents.

That’s the America that we deserve.

Folks, when I think of New York, I’m not thinking about some sort of quote, unquote “elite liberal bastion.” No. The New York I remember is the Statue of Liberty; it’s a map of the state; and it’s the phrase “Gateway to Freedom.”

And it is nothing more than that.

Similarly, the Arkansas that I remember is not some sort of religious, conservative epicenter. God no. No, it’s a diamond. A giant diamond. A diamond as big and as glistening as a sports arena, floating unassisted in the sky like the house from Wizard of Oz. And there’s also a duck and some stalks of rice.

That’s the Arkansas that I love. And when I drive through Arkansas, those are the only things that I would like to see.

Because America should not merely be defined by its flaws and its bigotries. This great nation was once a thriving city on a hill. A veritable utopia full of pioneers, rustic wildlife, astronauts, the Wright brothers, and (of course) a statue of Kamehameha–the founder of Hawaii.

And, even though things have certainly changed as of late… in my mind it always will be.

Alabama is still Helen Keller in a chair. And some braille. And, like, flowers or something.

Illinois is still a ginormous picture of Abe Lincoln wearing an unbuttoned shirt that reveals way too much of his chest. Waaay too much of his chest.

Wisconsin is still one ear of corn. Just one. And a giant wheel of cheese. And a huge, eerily-disembodied cow’s head. And a banner that inexplicably has the word “FORWARD” on it in all-caps.

Connecticut is still just a really big dead tree.

That’s the America I love. That’s the America I would like to return to.

And one day, I believe that we will.

Ladies and gentlemen, I recognize that our nation is currently in a state of disarray. But we must never forget that just 10 years ago (back when the last state quarter was finally, finally released in November of 2008) that our nation was unified. It was at peace. And it was as crisp and as shiny as a fresh roll of aluminum foil.

We cannot afford to let partisan divisiveness rend our nation in two. We cannot afford to let our once-great past disappear forever.

Because 50 quarters… That’s, like, 13 bucks.

Which is a pretty good amount of money.