My Private Political Journals, Vol. 2

I’m a corny person. What can I do? That’s who I am.

This comes to the surface particularly every 4th of July when fireworks are going off and people are in their red, white, and blue garb. Imagine this: an open Midwestern field on the edge of which are rows of porta-potties and a gravel parking lot. In the center is a stage with a middling country band playing to their crowd. On fold up lawn chairs there is much hocking of loogies and drinking of Bud Light. There are also children running around waving pinwheels which are spinning and glinting their reflected light in the grass.

Do you see it?

I am there with my hands in my pockets. I make an ironic comment like, wow, all these people are really into it. I have purposefully not worn red, white, or blue, to distance myself from a non-critical acceptance of my own country and culture. I have read too much Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky to wear red, white, and blue on the 4th of July. So I’d be there but not really there—walking around with intentional diffidence and neutrality.

Here’s the cornball part.

On the other side of this carefully cultivated distance, like a river rock you could turn over, is a pure patriotism that is inwardly hocking loogies and drinking Bud Lights. Maybe it is only my projection of a tame middle-western upbringing, but the response is involuntary. I feel a swell of pride. I am an American after all, and have had a pretty good life here. The smells of the burning sulfur and the popping noises bring back memories of lighting sparklers and firecrackers on the cul-de-sac, before I knew of anything America had done wrong, or of any wrongs done by any country.

But as soon as I feel this patriotism I know I have to convert it into something else. It’s too naïve and one-dimensional. A smart person with all the facts on their side could easily critique it and say why it’s wrong. And where would that leave me?

These two reactions, to me, represent two sides:

There is a 1960s-looking socialist intellectual wearing a tweed suit and thick-rimmed glasses and who is a world-weary foreign policy wonk. But there is also a straight laced conservative who gee gollies and aw shuckses his way between church picnics and fantasy football drafts. And these two are always at war with one another.

Two sides of the same river rock.

In other words it is as if the divisions we are experiencing in America today are something like a division I have in myself.

And where does that leave me.

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16 thoughts on “My Private Political Journals, Vol. 2

  1. Gee golly and aw shucks this is great! I think we all have that inside… I call it my zen & zombie. My inner Dalai Lama that’s all dolled up in black, tattoos & listening to Jack White when not resounding Ommmmmm…. my country tis of thee.

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  2. I’m older, so I’ve run the gambit. Voted for Bill Clinton. Voted for Obama the first time. Actually voted for Jill Stein the time after that. Historically Left-leaning. Then this election came up and the Left had been so polluted by the past 8 years and the whole works smelled bad. So…, I just didn’t vote. But then…, I saw the response of the Left to Trump winning, and I was appalled. The violence, destruction, and embarrassing—decidedly anti-American activities that we’re going on in our homeland. “With friends like that…” I suppose my feelings mirrored those of Howard Stern who said that, after what he’d witnessed, he could never again vote Democrat. ~ Late one night, in the midst of it all, on my phone, I took a side and registered Republican. ~ The father of a friend of mine said, “When you’re young you’re Democrat, and when you’re old you’re Republican.” Obviously that’s a bit of an over-simplification and doesn’t hold true across the board, but I can relate. It finds a place in me. Resonates. I’m an American, and the Republican party is the American party at the moment. ~ The world is a scary place with lots of people who don’t hold to our values about freedom and opportunity, and I care about the real world my kids and grandkids will have to navigate after I’m gone. I, for one, believe a strong America has always been good for the world at large. And it’s always been good for those of us inside it. That’s obvious just in how people have flocked here for hundreds of years. If the world out there, outside our borders, is so great, why are they all trying to come here? But we will lose that…thing we have…if we don’t stand up for it and protect it both from outside enemies and internal rot. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And if we lose it through weakness and naivety, then what? “If salt loses it’s flavor, how will IT be seasoned?” ~ It’s okay if you want to delete this.

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  3. After reading, I thought, “Isn’t everyone like this?”. It seems for simplicity’s sake, political nuances, down to patriotism, are divided as either on “The Left” or “The Right” when in reality the majority of people are somewhere in-between, fighting for a place to take their stance. Maybe everyone isn’t really like you or I but, you’re definitely not alone in feeling this way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. i enjoyed reading this, but i believe the countries problem is really a world problem, and even into religion… we live in fear of our government because we have no real human input into their schematics which often include covert evil for the so called “greater good”.. i think our governments should be more of a safety bet and less of an imperial looming force… same w our deities.

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