I am enraged right now. Even in Trump adjusted terms, en-effing-raged. If you haven’t heard, Donald Trump Jr. colluded with Russian state actors during the 2016 campaign. VIA EMAIL. There will be many a hot take on these events, and many a well-thought-out take as well. This is not either of those takes.
Only a week ago we celebrated the Fourth of July. Historically, I post either the lyrics or the YouTube vid to the Descendants’ ‘Merican since it was conveniently released the same year that Facebook came into existence. It’s a catchy tune:
We flipped our finger to the king of england
Stole our country from the Indians
With god on our side and guns in our hands
We took it for our own
A nation dedicated to liberty
Justice and equality
Does it look that way to you?
It doesn’t look that way to me
The sickest joke I know
Listen up man, I’ll tell you who I am
Just another stupid american
You don’t wanna listen
You don’t wanna understand
So finish up your drink and go home
I come from the land of Ben Franklin
Twain and Poe and Walt Whitman
Otis Redding, Ellington,
The country that I love
But it’s a land of the slaves and the ku klux klan
Haymarket riot and the great depression
Joe McCarthy, Vietnam
The sickest joke I know
I’m proud and ashamed
Every Fourth of July
You got to know the truth
Before you say that you got pride
Now the cops got tanks ’cause the kids got guns
Shrinks pushin’ pills on everyone
Cancer from the ocean, cancer from the sun
Straight to Hell we go
Every year I post this, I get some variation on the comment “This isn’t patriotic at all and this isn’t the right day and you don’t love this country at all!” Which is total horseshit. We recognize that our freedom comes at the price of military lives, and we rightly celebrate that on Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day.
However, what we as Americans have neglected is our own duties as civilians that protect and advance our freedom. Because we have abdicated this responsibility, and convinced ourselves that the only danger comes from without, and there is no danger from within, we are now the frog in the proverbial boiling pot.
I came of age in the era of George W Bush and the punk rock scene that experienced a resurgence in the wake of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Lest we forget, that was an angry period as well filled with war crimes and expanded powers of the Presidency that Congress just ceded. The power of knowing history in order to prevent repeating the worst of it was a central theme to the music, as was being an active and engaged person.
How short our collective memories are.
When we took back the House and Senate into Democratic control in 2006, we began to lose the activism of the first Bush administration. Why call our Congressmen and women or Senators when they could block the worst of the lame duck years? Why comment on federal regulations? And then Barack Obama won in 2008 and all bets were off. We ceded all activism to the Tea Party, instead of fighting just as hard for healthcare, for state offices, and for holding gubernatorial seats. So we lost our shit in 2010, but hey, we still had the presidency and the Senate, so eh, who really wants to pay attention to redistricting?
We somehow decided that nothing mattered, that business was proceeding along as usual, and we didn’t have to pay attention to what was under our noses the entire time: voter suppression, the long tug-of-war to the right because that can’t seriously happen because it’s too crazy, the disruptions. And we made it ok for the insanity to be the status quo.
We look to our military to protect us abroad. Yet we, who should be engaged in our democracy at home, who should be holding public servants accountable, should at least have a passing understanding of what’s on the table for dinner, shrugged our shoulders and said, “Someone else will do it.” Who wants frog legs?
I get that people don’t like politics. I am certainly not saying that every single person needs to be glued to Twitter or the daily papers all day every day, knowing each tit-for-tat that goes down in their capital city or Washington DC. However, politics affects policy, which affects every single one of us every single day. So it’s not a game. It’s not a daytime soap opera for the “elite”.
Millions stand to lose their healthcare right now. Millions more will see a cap on their coverage – meaning that insurance companies will only cover so much of an individual’s or family’s medical costs – which will lead to bankruptcy. Millions more still will see premiums skyrocket for junk policies akin to cut rate car insurance.
In Colorado, prior to this year’s legislative session (thanks to my Rep. Alec Garnett!), housing costs were skyrocketing in part because home builders were shy to construct condos and townhomes – those entry points to the housing market – because of construction defect laws that made it easy to sue builders.
These issues are surrounded by the messy business of compromise, so they’re not easy, and they’re not always perfect, and they’re not always comprehensive to understand or follow. But watching Fox News all day long, or even any cable network isn’t going to help you understand it; they’re in the business of selling the palace intrigue.
Newspapers are in crisis mode because people have stopped subscribing. We’ve lost a lot of our invaluable small, local papers because of it. Yet, these sources are the best for at least a high level overview of what the hell is happening. We’d rather watch a TV set though, and if the price is hearing 9 talking heads scream at and over each other, so be it, because at least then we’ll have a reason to hate “politics”.
So here we are. The president’s son just admitted to colluding with the Russians – WHO REMEMBER ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS – in order to win an election. This is not normal. This is not normal. This is not normal. And instead of rallying around our country, this country that I love, that we have an existential duty to protect, every single Republican who can actually do something about what is happening will go on those same cable shows, and they will talk about how “concerned” they are. Because power, party, and tax cuts are more important to them than this experiment in democracy. No wonder we’re so damn cynical.
For years we have been told as Democrats that we don’t love the USA, that we’re not as patriotic, because we want to push it to be better, to be more just, to be more equitable. We want to hold the powers that be to account, and if that means taking military, or police, or the president to task, so be it. I’m not saying you have to be a Democrat to protect this country, and the potential we still have.
I’m saying you have to be a goddamn democrat.