We found the origins of our democracy in Athens, an ancient Greek city-state with the earliest records of such a system. Theirs was a direct democracy and thus suitable only for small populations, so we took on the idea of a republic, a representative democracy, from ancient Rome when we formed our own. As in our own democracy, the Athenian model fell short of a true egalitarian government because votes were only for Athenian citizens and only certain genders and heritages and circumstances were deemed worthy of citizenship.
Here in the United States, we did much of the same. We have denied the full rights of citizenship to multiple groups of people upon whose backs our nation has been built.
But the long arc of progress is a true curving towards the recognition of all peoples - we cannot really grow without each other. We have made progress. We have extended the rights of citizenship to groups we once oppressed, recognized the rights of people we once scorned...not perfectly, too slowly, not without struggle, but we arc ever towards a more egalitarian world.
Each time we move forward in a jump towards a truer democracy, the shock of change pulls out the backlash, the clinging of those who are afraid that if others gain, they will lose. Our democracy becomes, as it now is, more tainted with the fascism of the grasping.
The ideals of democracy are what is right about this country, but only when they apply to everyone. We can't be a nation worthy of those ideals while we continue to leave so many behind. To be true patriots, we must commit, every day, to resist the powers that would restrict the equal participation of all people in the American Dream. We must commit, every day, to the expansion of equal rights under the law and equal access to both the work of and the fruits of democracy, for each of us...to this struggle we who are patriots must "mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."