A few years back while hammering up a long stretch of road in rural Kane County, Illinois, I glanced over to see a barn decorating in Americana style. I’d been by it plenty of times before, but decided to take a break and shoot a photo. I’m no flag waver by nature, and I don’t view patriotism strictly through the lens of the red, white and blue, as some people do.
I’ve never been a “My Country, Right of Wrong” kind of guy. For one thing, I hate the way that slogan lays out on the page. If you take it as a politically literal statement, it means you either lean Right or you’re wrong.
In fact, the political Right is more often wrong than it is right about what constitutes real freedom in this country. I think back on the Reagan administration’s debacle with the Iran-Contra affair, in which George H.W. Bush was also mixed up, and it makes me cringe to know that the people committing those illegal money-laundering and militaristic acts in our country’s name thought they were acting on in the name of a higher power than our nation’s own laws.
The same happened with the Bush-Cheney debacle in invading Iraq when that nation had nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks. It was an act of political doctrine, and lies, not American security, that sent our troops and bombs into that country. I’ve still not forgiven Bush for that inane adventure. He may be a sweet guy these days, but his manipulation under the thumb of Cheney resulted in tens of thousands of our soldiers dead or maimed by a virtueless, unpatriotic war.
Yet Fox News cheerleaded that venture, and dinglebats like Rush Limbaugh too.
The Obama years saw America using faceless drones rather than soldiers to do our dirty work. I get why we stood back and fired away. We were also tied down in Afghanistan, the war that Bush forgot, along with Osama bin Laden, of whom Bush once said, and we paraphrase here “I don’t think about him much anymore.”
By the time President Donald Trump came into office, so much unpatriotic stuff had transpired in America in the previous forty years it was impossible to know what a true patriot even looked like. Anyone that spoke out against the aggressive militarism was branded a “traitor” while those who questioned the globalistic capitalism gutting America’s economy as was called a “socialist.”
Along the way, I listened to radio and news media on all sides of the arguments. Eager to know how the political Right views the world, I tuned in regularly to listen to O’Reilly and Hannity, Limbaugh and Beck, Ingraham and Coulter. I read liberal and progressive magazines as well as the National Review, and websites ranging from The Blaze to the Drudge Report. In every case I weighed carefully what was being said. But I also screamed at the radio at times, such as the time when I heard Rush Limbaugh state “There’s no such thing as hunger in America.”
I heard so many lies like that coming from the political right that a quiet rage against misinformation arose in me. It was there all along, but watching the likes of Mitch McConnell twist the political knife in denying the basics of government from his political opponents…such as blocking the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, made me realize that many people view patriotism from an extremely narrow and selfish vantage point.
Which brings us to our impeached and disgraced ex-President Donald J. Trump. I never did hear the man explain one aspect of his policies in anything close to a rational manner. Instead he ranted about his supposed enemies who were only asking what he meant by branding white supremacists “good people.”
I used to listen to Senator Bernie Sanders on the Thom Hartman show. He took calls from listeners and answered questions about government policy in real time. He was lucid, honest, and principled in every answer he gave. If he didn’t know the answer to a question, he’d state that rather than make up some bullshit lie or dismissively concocted response. He respected people, in other words.
When Sanders lined up to run for President a part of me deeply wanted him to succeed. But political sloganism and the Trump Factor of low-level information displacing actual policy with stupid cheerleading like Make America Great Again made me realize that Sanders never stood a chance to beat Trump.
So while Biden is not perfect, he is principled. All the investigation into his past has been specious at best. Trump’s attempt to leverage his son’s activities into a case against Biden’s candidacy amounted to naught. Even the weird case of the Hunter Biden laptop seemed concocted as a smear tactic, not actual investigative journalism.
Which is why I’ve felt like patience was the best response to patriotism all along. Thus it’s fitting to put that Bernie image next to mine in the photo of my erstwhile patriotic stop that day on the road. Bernie looks both patient and a bit frustrated with what it took to get through the insanity of the Trump years. I’ve always thought Donald Trump was the biggest piece of shit on the face of the earth. The entire premise of his show The Apprentice was taking pleasure in telling people, “You’re fired.”
Well, Trump just got fired for inciting an insurrection, letting 400,000+ people die from Covid under his watch, and for generally disrespecting the duties of his office in every way possible. I hope he gets convicted in the impeachment trial and can never run for office again. Sometimes it takes patience for real patriotism to take effect. But people like Bernie and me have been waiting a long time for this. Mittens and all.