But is this claim to courageousness an accurate assessment or part of a self-serving image? Some assert that our willingness to fight proves our daring. That the expression "home of the brave" was written during a battle and the bumper sticker previously mentioned is in response to the 9-11 attacks seems to verify this contention. But there can be a problem with this line of thinking.
When we invaded Iraq, the only ones showing true grit were the troops involved and their families. Our nation's concern for its soldiers, however heartfelt, cannot be called courage. Thus, for most of us, our courage is solely being exhibited by others. In other words, our nation is displaying a vicarious valor.
Now if we return to that famous last line of our National Anthem, we realize that the words "home of the brave" is a part of a question rather than a declaration. And that question was asked so that the answer is to be pondered rather than assumed. So, again, how can we measure our country's nerve?
A better gauge for our national gallantry is something that involves more citizens than just those who fight. In addition, it should involve making the kinds of decisions that naturally invoke fear. Such decisions are those that involve change. One choice to change that can prove our mettle is deciding how we will vote. Instead of safely selecting from between our nation's two parties of Them and Not Them, we can boldly vote for parties we have not voted for before.
Now some think that voting in the Democrats shows the willingness to change. But would Democratic control really change our situation? Consider Chalmers Johnson's observation that both Clinton and Bush have promoted American Imperialism. For Clinton, it was an "economic imperialism" while for Bush it is a "military imperialism."  Chomsky has noted that, among their similarities, both Clinton and Bush have worked to promote the militarization of outer space.  In addition, many Democrats support both the War in Iraq and the giving of unconditional financial aid to Israel. Without changing how we use our military and how we support Israel, there is no hope for world peace and survival. Without eliminating the financial albatross of our current militarism, we cannot escape the deficit spending that is eliminating important social programs and destroying our future.
In addition, many Democrats are just as beholding to special interest groups as the Republicans. Just as Republicans have become hybrids of conservatism and money, so Democrats have become hybrids of liberalism and money. If we are really going to change our government, we have to eliminate what the two parties have in common--the love of money.
This is where courage comes into play. We are so use to a two-party system that voting for candidates from political parties such as the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Constitutional Party would show courage because we are risking change. Another risk involved is whether we will chance a win by the Them Party by not voting for their best competition, the Not Them Party. For example, will we risk a Republican victory by voting for the Green Party? In 2004, many voters were afraid to vote for Nader because they were afraid it would lead to a Bush win. Their fears were unfounded.
Another test of courage has to do with paying attention in the first place. Currently, Americans greatly resemble the Eloi of H.G. Wells's story "The Time Machine." Contentment has led to complacency and complacency has killed our curiosity. Our creature comforts keep too many of us from asking why we can live the way we do. In particular, we do not ask what present costs others must pay or future costs that we could pay for America's current way of life.
Changing how we vote is not the only way to show courage; but, considering the storm clouds rushing in from the horizon, it is a necessary one. Will we change our current heading or will we sail on in a self-comforting denial? Considering the similarities between the Democrats and the Republicans, the only way to change our present course is to vote for third party candidates. So will we continue to vote for a two party system or is America the home of the brave?
 "The Sorrows Of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, And The End Of The Republic" by Chalmers Johnson, Metropolitan Books, 2004, pg 257