Politics

#’Merica

close up photo of people holding usa flaglets

So, two things on my radar this week that happen to do with our country, the good ole U.S.of A.  The first is a podcast recommendation. (Big surprise, am I right?).   It Could Happen Here is the name of my latest podcast obsession. Here’s a link to their webpage to learn a little more about it and you can find it wherever you get your podcasts. I get mine from Apple podcasts but it’s also on I heart.  Anyway, the basic premise is how the United States could easily have another civil war if we do not take drastic measures.  It’s fascinating and frightening.  This is not something you want to binge.  Listen to an episode and then listen to something funny or lighthearted. Otherwise, you’ll want to go home and slit your wrists.  It’s heavy stuff.  The narrator/author actually addresses this fact and says something to the effect of he didn’t put this information out there to make anyone depressed or hopeless but to make people aware of some hard facts and truths and if we are aware maybe we can change.  Seriously, no matter what your political leanings or even if you aren’t political, it’s worth listening to the preview or the first episode.

The next thing hitting my radar is a special six part special edition documentary on ABC called 1969.  Each of the six episodes addresses a major news making event that happened, are you ready for this, 50 years ago in 1969.  The first episode is about the Moon landing in July 1969. This is the episode that got me hooked. I love anything to do with space.  I was that kid that would set their alarm clock to 4:30 a.m. so I could watch shuttle launches. I’ve always been fascinated by space travel. The other five episodes are good as well and range in topic from Woodstock to the Vietnam War. Watch them all or cherry pick and just watch a few but they are definitely worth a look.

The weird thing is, after watching this six part series, I was truly astounded by how little things have changed. I’m sure the writers of 1969 spun the series that way.  I was born but not yesterday. I have no delusions that that’s not exactly what the writers had in mind. But, it is startling. Your initial gut reaction says, of course, a lot has changed – we’ve gone to the moon, there are real tangible equal rights laws on the books, the list goes on and on. All of that is true but then again there has been a rash of murders of black transgender women, many Southern states are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade and there’s some wackadoodle DA that says he won’t enforce domestic violence laws for gay couples because he does not personally recognize gay marriage. In 1969, we had an unpopular war that many believe we didn’t have any business fighting.  In 2019, we are still in the Middle East fighting God knows who but by God we’re fighting.  In 1969, various minority groups (Blacks, Women, Gays) were fighting for equality.  In 2019, most of those groups are still fighting to be heard in some form or fashion only now we can add Latinos to the list.  Immigration is a huge deal.  It was in 1969 too.  Only back then it was refugees from Vietnam, many of whom were treated poorly just because of their country of origin. In 1969, we had a space race and Woodstock kept losing its permits to put on an epic show.  In 2019, we have Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk taking over space innovation and Woodstock 50 just lost its permit and its future looks bleak.  In 1969, we had a President that had the nickname, Tricky Dick and eventually got impeached. In 2019, well, I’m not going to go there.

When you take all these similarities into account, it looks like we haven’t evolved at all.  And, that’s the kick in the ass.  Fifty years and what do we have to show for it?  What the hell happened? Did we get so jaded and disenfranchised back then that everyone just threw up their hands and we’ve been phoning it in for the past 50 years? I don’t mind telling anyone who will stand still long enough it makes me sad and worried when I see how things are shaking out. I worry for our country as a whole and for my kids future and their generation’s future. My only hope is if the shit hits the fan I’ll be young enough to march in the streets or I’ll be too old and die quick.

Photo credit: I love free photos on the internet. 

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Politics

Tiananmen

190603-tiananmen-square-1989-ac-810p_204a4448820b49bdc1efc222e49e28fd.focal-758x379When I imagine 30 years ago, I think 1970-something. I do not think 1989; yet, that is exactly 30 years ago.  Imagine my surprise when I come across a New York Times article (read it here) about the protest and Tankman.  After reading the headline it occurred to me I am the exact same age as my oldest is now when that happened.  My oldest has never sat down and watch the news or read a news article of his accord ever in his life.  I distinctly remember the local and the national news being on the tv every night.  Our family may not have been actively watching every minute with bated breath but it was on and something was being absorbed.

I will never forget watching that young man standing in front of those tanks.  It is permanently etched into my memory.  I remember all the questions: what will happen to this guy, what kind of government would mow down their own citizens, how bad does the government have to be that a person is willing to stand in front of a giant tank? It boggles the mind. Nothing is known about what happened to the guy.  There is a lot of speculation. I can’t imagine the Chinese government allowed him to live. Still, it’s kind to crazy to think that was 30 years ago. It seems like the blink of an eye.

I pulled my oldest aside and showed him the story.  I told him I remember being angry. I mean what teenager isn’t angry? But, I distinctly remember being very angry at that situation. What is the world coming to that you have to stand in front of a tank?  I get it now.  I’m older and I understand a few more things but at that time I couldn’t wrap my head around it all.  A couple years later (1991) we’d see the First Gulf War. And, again I felt scared and angry.  My kids have never known a time when we didn’t have a military presence somewhere in the middle east.  In some ways, we’ve been fighting a war since 2001. They have no idea about current events.  They know who the President is and that’s it. Maybe it’s time to bring back the nightly news.  Is it even still on?  The last time I watched the evening news Tom Brokaw was an anchor.  Wow, it really has been 30 years hasn’t it?

Photo Credit: I lifted this off the internet. It probably belongs to someone but I’m using it as fair use since this image is 30 years old and I’m not making any money off of it.  No copyright infringement intended. Don’t sue me, I’m broke. Just ask me to take it down if it belongs to you.

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Politics

Playing Politics

I votedI didn’t grow up in a political household.  Sure, the local and national news blared from the television every night but there was rarely any discussion. We never had a political sign in the yard and I don’t recall seeing anyone sporting the cute ‘I voted’ sticker (seen left) on their shirt. The only remotely political moments I can remember was my uncle wearing a T-shirt featuring Mickey Mouse dressed as Uncle Sam flipping the bird and holding a sign that read Iran and my mother and stepdad calling the 1984 Mondale/Ferraro ticket ‘Tits and Fritz’.  I got in huge trouble at school parroting that ‘Tits and Fritz’ slogan during Weekly Reader time.  That was the day I learned don’t repeat anything you hear at home.  My husband, on the other hand, comes from a political household.  People talk about politics. Signs are proudly posted in the yard.  Some volunteer for a candidates campaign. And, it’s unthinkable to abstain from voting.

We currently live in a pocket town within a very large city.  It sounds kind of weird when you put it that way but most very large cities have similar situations – Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles to name a few.  These little pocket towns, once considered far from the city, have gradually been swallowed by the leviathan.  However, some of these little towns manage to hang on to some autonomy by electing mayors and city presidents. Don’t let their size fool you. Politics in these little towns are hot. I meancutthroatt.

Early voting is about to wrap up with the actual polling date occurring in a few days.  I have had more knocks at my door, seen more fliers and mailouts, and watched more mud slung on Facebook over this piddly rinky-dink town mayor position than I have over the state Governor position.  It’s bad y’all.  One dude’s family member called out the opponent on a Facebook neighborhood garage sale page.  He made it sound like the opponent was the devil himself.  As my Grandma would say, “He called him everything but a dirty, white boy.”  Incidentally, I don’t know what being white has to do with anything but whatever. Old people.  Y’all, the garage sale page.  I mean how ridiculous.  People are over here trying to score a cheap lawn mower and here comes Joe Bob talking trash about somebody.  As far as I’m concerned you can talk trash all day long if they guy is selling bad merchandise but if you are questioning this dude’s ability to run the town go peddle your crazy somewhere else. I’m trying to score a deal.

All of this tomfoolery has led me to make the decision to not vote in this particular election.  Don’t worry, I heard Susan B. Anthony roll over in grave just now, thank you very much.  I am duty-bound to vote. Women fought hard for this right. I understand and I agree.  But, since I am new to this town and don’t know a soul or the problems and issues this town faces I feel it would be irresponsible of me to pick someone who may or may not have the town’s best interests at heart.  I can already hear the folks yammering about ‘but one vote’.  To that, I say, indeed.  One vote can sway the outcome and what if my uninformed vote sways the outcome in the wrong direction.  It is best for me to sit down, shut up, and observe my new town so that I can make an informed and wise choice the next time we are called to voice our opinion.  And, if you don’t agree with my opinion, watch out I’ll trash you on the Facebook community garage sale page.

 

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Musing, Politics

Picket Line

protestor

I distinctly remember being about 6 or 7 years old sitting at a stop light in my mother’s silver Monte Carlo watching a group of men marching in a circle outside the main gates of a factory.  My Mother started ranting how plenty of people would be happy to have their job and they just need to get back to work. She called them some names and said a bunch of phrases I didn’t understand like lazy, union troublemaker.  I asked her what they were doing, and she explained they were on strike and picketing.  She followed this information up with, “If I ever catch you picketing, I’ll beat your ass.”  Being the headstrong child I was, I immediately started investigating why a person would picket and trying to figure out how to get in on the action. No, I didn’t necessarily want my “ass beat” but I was interested in something that elicited such a visceral response from my mother.

Fast forward nearly three decades, my mother (if she were still alive) would be happy to know I have never participated in a picket line or march. It’s not for lack of trying. There have been enough opportunities, that’s for sure.  Since I saw that first picket line, I’ve seen marches for peace, AIDS research, the Million Man March, illegal immigration (for and against), women’s rights and most recently gun control and those are just the ones I can think of right off the top of my head.  I still find the idea of marching for a cause intriguing. The act of gathering together in large numbers and physically making your voice heard about something you feel passionately about feels cool, hip, and young. It’s as American as dumping tea in the Boston Harbor. Yet, now that I’m older I can’t help but wonder if all these marches make any difference. Of all those marches I mentioned and the others I’ve forgotten, did any of them do any good? Oh sure, they raised awareness and if you are counting that as doing good then yes, they were a success.  But, did any of these marches truly bring about change?  The only one I can think of was the 1963 March on Washington which featured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  Even that famous march only brought awareness at first, the legislation wouldn’t happen for another year.

As for my lack of participation, there has been precious little I have felt strongly enough about that would require me to march. It’s not that I don’t feel strongly about issues, quite the opposite.  I’ve made phone calls.  I’ve signed petitions. I’ve ranted on Facebook pages and public forum sites. Over the years, I’ve written countless letters and emails to companies, organizations, lawmakers, and most recently my town’s transportation commissioner. I know there is strength in numbers, however, I choose to use my keyboard rather than my person when protesting.  Although, if I thought for one second physically protesting would stop certain things from happening I would be in that picket line with bells on laughing to myself that my Mother couldn’t beat my ass even if she wanted to.

NOTE: Unlike my mother, I have never told my children they can’t or shouldn’t protest. I have told them to educate themselves and to know exactly why they feel a certain way so they can defend their beliefs if the need for protest arises.

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Opinon, Politics

Our Tribe

If you’ve turned on any screen today, you’ll know we are in a government shut down and that both sides have started pointing fingers and yelling.  I’m not going to talk about that.  What I do want to talk about is how this should come to no surprise to anyone.  “What do you mean no surprise?”  Well, first of all, this has happened before both in the Clinton and Obama administrations.  So yeah, it will probably happen again.  But the second and probably the bigger reason is it was only a matter of time.  Since Joel Gareau’s 1981 book entitled Nine Nations of North America and more recently The American Nations by Colin Woodard the theory has been put forth that we are just a collection of tribes or nations, and they aren’t wrong.

In fact, that’s exactly how the United States started out. Our states were tiny nations under a main governing body much like the EU structure of today.  In fact, that was one of our biggest hurdles during our country’s infancy. Should we have a strong federal government or should we have strong individual state governments?  We all know how that played out.  One only has to look around to see the long arm of the Feds, but I digress.  Those nation states were settled and populated by people with many different cultural backgrounds and religions, some completely different and opposite of the other.

Now fast forward 200 years, those core beliefs have continued to be passed down but our numbers and land we claim as our own have grown exponentially. What started out around 3 million in the 1790s has grown to 300 million.  And though we as a people are very mobile, we also tend to stick to areas that feel the most like home and share our overall belief system.  With so much many different moving parts to our government and all the diversity of its people, how can one central government meet the needs of such a diverse group? What is the phrase? ‘You can’t be all things to all people.’

And, let’s not forget the whole tribe thing.  Don’t tribes often disagree and fight with one another?  Do the Twelve Tribes of Isreal come to mind?  Those poor people have been fighting on over the same patch of dirt for thousands of years.  Hell, they don’t even remember why they are mad at each other.

So yeah, it’s no surprise. The question that keeps ping ponging around in my brain and will probably land me on some government watch list is how will this all play out? Different tribes are drawing lines in the sand regarding various issues. The ‘us versus them’ mentality is as high as I have ever seen – granted I did not live through the civil rights movement and that was a heavy time – but this seems like it’s shaping up to be just as big.  Can our country handle all the tribes with their different demands?  I don’t know.

 

 

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