Monday, July 4, 2016

Dependence Day, 2016

Since I live in Germany, nobody's waving flags, setting off fireworks, or enjoying backyard barbecues today. Should they be doing so in the USA? I've never felt less sanguine about the survival of America's separation from Great Britain. We no longer have anything like the democracy Jefferson and the Founding Fathers envisioned: we have a plutocracy, and the very real prospect of Donald Trump uniting Americans in hatred of immigrants, Muslims, and anyone whom he personally dislikes. I'm sure he has the pull to hammer Hillary Clinton on her emails and bludgeon the FBI into making her life difficult; I'll bet she's got the moxie to give Trump and the FBI a run for their money. Money. That is what government depends on, in ways unimaginable to the Founding Fathers.
Neither Clinton nor Trump could survive as politicians without the massive funds they've accumulated. The dregs of democracy that still remain--we citizens do all get to vote--depend heavily on the messages paid for by the candidates. It never occurred to me, growing up, that I'd prefer to hide under a rock than celebrate on Independence Day. In the hall of the academic building in which I teach, a colleague was trying to remember the lyrics to "You're A Grand Old Flag," and as we attempted to sing it--followed by "God Bless America," another colleague in a sentimental mood hummed a few bars--after which we dispersed, ashamed of the line, "symbol of the laaaaa-aaaand we love!"
"That's the bathos of it," said my colleague.
Every time Trump yelps that he wants to "make America great again," that "bad things are happening," that "we have no choice," I daydream about crowds descending on the stage, waving banners that say, "Blessed are the Peacemakers!" and inciting audiences to remember that:
(1) What we want is to make America good again. Not "great." 
(2)  Good things are happening--will happen--when we know that we always have choices, and we always have hope.
(3) The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment