I am the six-greats granddaughter of a man who fought in the Revolutionary War. Jonathan Latimer and his son, Wetherell, fought to free this country from tyranny. One of the founding freedoms we sought was the freedom to dissent.

King George considered dissent to be seditious. So we had the audacity to form a better government by, of, and for the people. Many gave their lives. Today, many continue to give their lives fighting to protect that dream.


This hits home for me because as an activist, I am sometimes presumed to be "unpatriotic." Maybe we come off ungrateful? Nothing is further from the truth. I dissent because I love America. Dissent is patriotic. Because I know she is a work in progress, and she is capable of both amazing and horrific things. Our ancestors fought against a king who actively sought to oppress those who dared to voice their opposition.

We must not treat each other that way.

The most American thing we can do is raise our voices when we disagree with our government and engage in a political debate. Respectfully, always.

It was, in part, my history that caused me to run for office. What would my great-grandfathers Jonathan and Wetherell say to me? Would they be proud of me? Or think I had squandered their gift?

I believe our leaders our failing us. They are part of the partisan dysfunction, failing to debate and compromise. The result will condemn our future. How can I not fight back? Fight to bring civility back to political discourse; fight for the world I believe my daughters deserve, just as my grandfathers did. I must. It's a moral obligation.

Last week, while I was working the polls, another volunteer noticed my outfit and commented that he was surprised to see a Democrat wearing cowboy boots and carrying an American flag, because " Democrats aren't patriotic." We must stop with this narrative. Democrats are patriotic, Republicans are patriotic. No one has a monopoly on what it means to be a patriot. Don't let them trick you into thinking you have to pick the blue team or the red team. We are all on the American team.

May you have a healthy, happy, festive and safe Fourth of July. God Bless America.

Emily Shank


The writer is a Democratic candidate for House of Delegates in District 5.