I saw a Facebook post today that made me wonder.
Festooned with an American flag it read: “I’m not a Republican or Democrat, I’m an American. And I want my country back.”
Alrighty, then. Hard to dispute with both parties busy throwing hand grenades at one another. But, wait. Which America did you want back?
Was it the America of the 50’s, when racial segregation was widespread and accepted as a way of life? Where you could be clubbed to death for standing up for your rights and your killer would walk free? Where women were expected to include the word “little” in front of their description, stand three feet back of their husbands and nod lovingly at every pearl of wisdom that dribbled from his mouth? And accept the fact you’d be paid half of what a man made for doing exactly the same work? And know you’d never have a voice in the decisions made in Washington D.C.? An America where you could lose your job and your livelihood based on an anonymous accusation that you were a communist. Is this the America you miss?
Or how about those fun loving 60’s? When we were killing tens of thousands of our young people (but not the sons and daughters of the wealthy) in a war that military experts knew couldn’t be won. A war that primarily enriched the obscenely rich owners of munition companies and other defense-related corporate welfare recipients? A decade where beating up queers was considered great sport and protestors were gunned down on college campuses for expressing their opinions? Are you a fan of political assassinations? We had gosh a plenty of those in the sixties. Do you long to return to those times?
Or jump ahead to the “greed is good” 80’s, (We’ll skip the 70’s. Disco music. ‘Nuff said.) Reaganomics, where the average American working stiff was fed the lie of “trickle-down economics” not realizing he was the one being trickled down upon by the obscenely wealthy people standing over the economic urinal. Oh, those were the days, alright. When girls were girls and men were men. Oh we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again! (God, I long for the Great Depression. When America was truly great.)
Here’s my point. Every period of American history was flawed in some way. That’s why the statement “I want my country back” is really delusional thinking. What I want. What I really, really want, is my country forward.
(They don’t call me “Pudgy Spice” for nothing.)
I want a country where laws and customs treat all people equally. Where you don’t have to worry about being pulled over for “driving while being black” if you’re a person of color.
I want a country where people are valued and respected regardless of their sexuality, religion (or lack thereof), language, skin color or place of origin. And where they don’t have to fear job or social discrimination because of any of those things.
I want my country to move forward and elect and appoint public officials based on their qualifications, not how large a donation they made to a candidate or how many millions they can afford to spend on fear-mongering campaign advertising. For example, we should have a Secretary of Education who has worked as a teacher and/or administrator in the public schools. And, oh yes, we should base national medical policy on science not politics and magical thinking.
I want an America where peaceful protest of all kinds is not misrepresented as being “disrespectful” or “un-American.” This country began as a protest. We should respect and value that principle. Looters and people, who damage property or harm others of course, should be arrested, prosecuted and serve jail time.
And, I want an America, going forward that acknowledges the contribution that immigrants and refugees have made to the texture of our nation, and encourages those displaced from their places of origin to feel welcomed here. Does that mean open borders? No. But it also doesn’t mean an expensive and ineffective wall that is strictly the product of political posturing and fear-mongering about a non-existent invasion by “them.”
My forward-looking wish list for America could go on for a lot longer. But, suffice it to say, I don’t long for “the good old days.” Instead, I hope we can come together and create “the good old days” for future generations.