A Country Not Yet Realized: Sara Bareilles Imagines What President Obama Is Not Saying

Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 5:30 am

A Country Not Yet Realized: Sara Bareilles Imagines What President Obama Is Not Saying

There’s nothing Pollyannish about loving your country. But, as historian and civil rights legend Vincent Harding once noted, it is a country that is not yet fully realized.

This love is surfacing in unexpected ways during the waning days before election day. Omid Safi picks up on Harding’s idea by proffering the hopeful position that the greatness of America “is in our future, not our past.” In other words, American aspiration over American pride.

And, in her most recent column, Courtney Martin reasserts her patriotism and love of its people:

“I know in my heart that I do love this country. A stupid amount. I don’t love it because I think it’s superior, just as I don’t love my daughter based on some false hierarchy. I love it, as I love her, because it’s mine and it’s a miracle of sorts and it has the capacity to surprise me.”

There must be something in the water… in the fourth and final act of a recent This American Life podcast, Ira Glass and his team turn to musicians Sara Bareilles and Leslie Odom Jr. to imagine “some of the things President Obama thinks about the current election, but can’t say publicly.” Bareilles’ composition takes language and song to make sense of the world before us. And, in the end, Bareilles and Odom remain loyal to a conflicted country that is yet to be:

“After all we’ve done
Every battle hard won
Every hair gone gray
In the name of this place
In a history plagued
with incredible mistakes
Still I pledge my allegiance to these United divided States.”

Brilliant. God bless America.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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