Ed.: 050418 – Words: 2124 – Audio: N/A
In past posts I’ve commented to those who seem to think we are in some political end-of-days given all the political and cultural divisiveness, White House chaos, and international political confusion; this is nothing compared to the late 1960’s… specifically 1968-69-70.
In fact, you can see this being reflected in the various special presentations on cable and network news. Stories reflecting back on the 1960’s is a bit more than just baby boomer one-more-time reflections on the good old days. To those who appreciate history, have lived some of the history, and/or are trying to seek answers to our current issues by looking back, these reflective documentary programs provide some insight. Those were tough days.
Well… I recall back in the day, I think it was Fall of 1968… likely right when the Democratic National Convention was going on in Chicago. For those of you old enough to remember that event… it was absolute turmoil in the streets given all the demonstrators.. and then the total city-wide embarrassment when the senior Mayor Daley ordered the police to just disperse the crowd.. and they tried.. running smack into the mob, swinging their clubs against white and black alike.. all on live TV. Think urban war zone.
My parents had decided years previous to purchase a flag pole kit from Sears. Not one of those hooks-on-the-side-of-the-house things.. a real bonifide self-standing, four piece, 20 foot, mast pipe, which dad and I mounted in a hole, using cement, in the ground near the front of the house. Each and every patriotic celebratory day on the calendar we would raise the flag… taking turns on who was going to raise it. I thought it was all quite cool given I was an America-love-it-or-leave-it, anti-hippie, pro-war-to-stop-those-godless-commies kinda guy in my teen years.. and raising the flag was the patriotic thing to do… and WE were the only house on the block to have a flagpole!
As time went on.. and current events of those days became more passionate… I convinced the rest of the family that we should fly the flag everyday. Well, that’s sorta like owning a four legged pet that barks; it’s nice to pet and cuddle but you still have to get off your ass and take it for a walk a couple times a day at least… not at your convenience. While I am not comparing flying the flag to owning a pet I am comparing the responsibility of having to tend to it. If you want to fly the flag all day then someone has to put it up each morning regardless of the weather, and take it down at night regardless of the weather. Of course being school age (high school years) my sis and I both knew the rules for flag display… so leaving up it on the pole 24/7 (for our own convenience and not for patriotism) meant we needed to have a light on it for after sunset, which we didn’t have. As time progressed and the flag flying routine became… more routine… there were those days when we “forgot” to take it down.
Well, it was during the week of the convention… all the chaos in the city between the demonstrators in Grant Park being beaten, clubbed, and gassed by Chicago’s Finest, and the usual unrest in the black neighborhoods answering to the civil rights movement by firebombing their own neighborhoods. This was the first time any of us heard of the idea of demonstrators hurling bags with feces and urine onto the police (the thought we had was imagining the demonstrators preparing the bags).
One morning as I was heading out the door to post the flag before heading to school mother stopped me and said given the volatility of the current events in the city that it might be prudent not to put up the flag for fear of our house maybe being a target for demonstrators roaming the city. I was a bit taken aback; we lived in what was considered at the time the last all-white section of the city… near the affluent Northwest suburbs (where Hillary Clinton, near my age, was going to school), and our home was nestled in a typical residential neighborhood, far from any main artery road that might encourage roaming demonstrators. The news was usually filled with civil rights marches everywhere… and we thought MLK and company (even though he was assassinated the previous April) would be marching through a neighborhood near you at any time to protest real estate discrimination. Amazing by today’s standards the things we feared back then. Yet it’s pretty amazing the array of fears many of us are feeling now.
But… in a stance of teenage defiance to parental authority, I picked up the flag… and retorted, “Well, Mom, we can’t be in fear of flying the flag because this is what we do as Americans.”, and out the door I went… imagining all the way that I was one of those Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima. We never did get assaulted by renegade hippie anarchists hurling feces bags, nor demonstrating blacks throwing fire bombs… and when I got back from school at the end of the day.. the flag was still there, and so was the house.
All those 800 words lead up to the theme of this post…. our national fear of each other and the lack of voice from our elected leaders to object to the vilifying and outright hate being promoted by right wing conservatives, and our President, to our traditional institutions and government itself. Suspicions and conspiracy theories abound on the conservative right that make no sense in general, and have not been substantiated specifically. It all seems to center on this idea that there’s a part of white America that wants some “old days” back; that globalization, a generally popular concept and certainly not foreign to traditional Republicanism free trade, has somehow robbed rural Americans of their cultural and political identity. The influx of Hispanic influence in the last few decades, as well as the growing Muslim population, has lead to a white backlash in attacking immigration policies. Whites in America are seeing their numbers dwindling. This has led to this white nationalism reflected in Trump winning the election. Even worse… this segment of society, demographically also religiously based, is very more than willing to look the other way on all the controversy, lies, incompetency, and moral ineptitude regarding Trump as President, in order for Trump the Magnificent to “fix” America for whites.
We have a more than capable military able to defend our nation from any enemy. We have our intelligence services more than able to keep vigilance on those in the world who want to do us harm, in spite of being vilified internally by a suspect white America led by a renegade president. So then I ask the question…
Who is defending America from within?
Oh, please. Do not even suggest the obsessive gun owners spouting their readiness to protect the Second Amendment are some reliable force for defending America from anything other than their own homes (and shadows)… until another guy with a gun shoots them first. No.. defending ourselves from within, if not the responsibility of every American, is in fact supported by our elected leaders, law enforcement institutions, the free press, and every federal institution established along the way to assure every American has some level of life, liberty, and the freedom to pursue happiness. Trump, no question one of those elected leaders by a minority of Americans, is an absolute threat to the institutions of this country simply because of his own defiance to their existence and his total ambivalence to the rule of law. If there were no Constitution Trump would be a dictator. In the meantime he is a facilitator of chaos from within; a voice for absolutely nothing American. And he has a following… who blindly follow.. and also spurn our traditions and institutions. They justify themselves by pointing fingers at a “deep state”, liberal conspiracies, and widespread government corruption, and of course the Clintons and the Obamas. The real hypocrisy has been the lemming evangelicals.. or any other expression of religious diatribe overlapping into politics, that is willing to accept all of Trump’s human foibles for the sake of getting an appointment by him of yet another conservative Justice to the Court in order to swat the abortion issue… which is the ONLY thing they care about; “To hell with what Trump says or does or steers the country into. We just don’t want unborn babies killed anymore.” Riiight.
Yet.. all these folks represent a part of America. They are Americans, entitled to their views and opinions and political representation. But the feeling being presented is one, not of compromise or patience or their own tolerances for the differences of others, but rather a vengeful, angry, and poisonous attitude of hate toward who they feel was responsible in the past for their sorry lot in life… and taking away their white America. This is the “fear” we are all blossoming into as Trump’s questionable moral and legal improprieties get revealed by Mueller. As an American I care about other Americans.. even the one’s who support Trump. But this pseudo-nationalism, new Trumpian Republicanism, MAGA-spewing that has spawned from the President’s self-indulgence is not one bit a display of what this country stands for.
Now Trump is an embattled President because of his own incompetencies. Impeachment is a very likely endeavor on the part of a… possible Democratic Congress. Trump will fight it every step of the way and his minions.. his supporters… will defend him to the last. We will survive that as a nation; I have faith in the Constitution. But what’s it going to cost along the way?
Again I state, we have a President that is a clear and present danger to the nation.
Again I ask… who is going to defend us from within?
I’m armed and ready with my vote. Will that be enough? We could use some voices from Congress… and the ex-presidents. But the Congress is just a punchline these days; both parties in complete chaos and in search of identities. The ex-presidents? I know they think they have this “special” club where they want to elevate themselves outside of critical politics, out of respect for each other… and certainly for the one in office. But does that mean they have to surrender being an American with American concerns? Whether they are for or against Trump… they can still have an opinion.
But, no. At best (or worst) Congress is likely waiting around for the Mueller investigation to allow legitimacy and credibility for their reason to impeach collectively and still sleep at night. The ex-presidents have done their jobs.. served their terms.. what more can anyone ask of them… apparently. So who is left? Anyone want to step up and be counted? The mainstream, respected media is doing a good job investigating and reporting. Our federal institutions are plugging away doing their jobs.. which in itself defies Trump’s demonizing them to America. We should be proud of all those folks across the board… some dealing with their own inept leadership appointed by Trump. There are some single Americans working on their own trying to defend us from within; new folks running for public office, people like Tom Steyer trying to rally for impeachment through his website, activists for gun control, the list is growing.
We’ve been battered constantly, daily, every single day of Trump’s term thus far, with his nonsense, lies, and incompetence. We are now growing numb.. new revelations each day about Trump and his administration we simply accept as some new norm. His lies occur each day and we shrug it off. Any other president from any other era we would have had a huge blowback of demanding public opinion for action. With Trump.. we already know we don’t believe a word he says; we have learned to accept the man because we can’t seem to get rid of him anytime soon. Let’s at least try and fix that much. We can’t let our integrity as a nation flounder.
Don’t let the fear keep you from making a stand. If all you can do is fly the flag.. then do it to show your support from within. If all you have is your vote… then use it. These are tough times not because of economic hardship but because our morality, our traditions, our moral identity as Americans is being challenged domestically by our own President. These are by no means impossible times… and certainly not the End of Times. We need to balance and right our ship of freedom with a competent captain… and get back on course. America was always great because everyone before us sacrificed to make it that way. It’s our job to keep it great, not replace that greatness.