I was feeling pretty good. And yes, I recognize patriotic spiel…but how wonderful that it again filled the air with so much zeal! I even believed that America’s problems were once again manageable…that’s how it is during convention weeks for this political junkie. This year, when I again tuned into the first convention, I was buoyed and jubilant! We were indeed a melting pot of shared values. A panorama of nationalities and accents had all shared: We DID build it, Mr. President. Damn… we ARE Americans!!!
Every four years, we weather political claptrap and cast our voice. Truth be told, my parents had not voted for either Jack or for Jimmy; by 9-11, Mom and Dad were both gone and I was quietly grateful that they’d never have to endure living through another world war or a repeat of the Great Depression.
My love for my country and its history had always been strong; 2008 was an historical election and I would take in as much of the excitement as the next citizen! In the end, I hadn’t voted for Barack; his message just didn’t resonate with my free market belief system, so I was cautiously alarmed by some of his semantics and rightly so. I remembered S.I. Hayakawa, a semanticist who blew cannon-size holes through the Sixties’ rhetoric. Perhaps it was my having lived and remembered the political turmoil; perhaps it was my personal inability to dream much beyond my immediate circumstance; or – God help me – perhaps I was becoming my mother. Finally, it was that my own retirement was taking a beating; legalities, changing tax rules and global economics now ate into the once projected, inflation-protected theories; this baby boomer had amassed much less than the safety net recommended by most financiers.
Perhaps naively, I believed the checks and balances – including the Electoral College – were above the destruction by any dissident voices. Had not our constitutional republic been instituted by men with extraordinary vision and understanding? Had not they foreseen the vulnerability of the human spirit?
I’d matured enough to understand that nothing in this life was free – one or some ones would eventually foot the bill. There existed a taxpayer survival chain; it definitely needed an entire overhaul. Until that happened, more serious concerns could be set aside just a bit longer; it was time to join in the celebratory traditions of a new administration!
I recognized the 2009 inaugural for what it was: another historic moment in our country’s history. America had at long last elected our First Black President. Sorry, William Jefferson, but this man really WAS half-Black and his African roots were only one generation removed. Sounded like another American dream come to life! We’d again have small children in the White House. There on the dais stood another young, educated and good looking family, reminiscent of the Camelot years that had appeared in the Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle magazines my mother would bring home. Jackie and the children had indeed captured America’s imagination and its youthful exuberance; it was extremely likely Michelle and the girls would do the same for a new generation of believing citizenry.
I must admit, I had friends and family members sit up and take notice when I announced that I was taking a vacation day to stay home and watch the Obama Inauguration. My immediate circle knew my political leanings; some even shook their heads and asked aloud if I were crazy???? Politics aside, I would always believe in America’s goodness; its grounded reverence for the rule of law; its ability to correct its wrongs; and its remarkable resistance and vigilance to protect and maintain the very unique constitutional republic that was the foundation of it all. I was an American first. My reasoning was simplistic: if “the old country” had offered as much as America, my grandparents would never have left Europe.
This daddy’s girl would continue the family tradition. No matter which party declared victory, its newly elected Leader of the Free World deserved my respect and would be afforded my reverential attention, complete with my benefit of the doubt; at least in the beginning. In my patriotic lens, America was truly the greatest political experiment mankind ever knew! In what other nation did leadership transition so civilly, even after the most heated campaigns? Like my mentors before me, I kept a pair of rose-colored glasses specifically for ballot box results. I donned the glasses and watched the next four years unfold.
Obviously, I was naïve, especially regarding power’s addicting lure. In the common vernacular, the values I assumed we all shared were not quite the same ones; so, my assumptions that this president would work for the greater good of Americans proved illegitimate and made a complete ass of me.
After four years of a worsening job market, some questionable signatures and appointments of several non-elected advisors to positions of unrestricted power over our elected legislature, this administration had completely undermined its own credibility. But I was determined to watch the festivities.
I tuned in to the latter convention; several spoke, forming an American montage of individuals I did not recognize. One was actually the offspring of non-citizens, yet she was given the podium! Others joined in, pleading for a fairness and level playing field; they whined, they complained, and they sought sympathy as victims of America’s opportunities. I asked myself, since when do the rules not apply?
Behold! The stage was smaller than four years ago; there was no room for God who was initially excluded, then loudly booed when reinserted back onto the party platform! Color and Ethnicity joined forces against a common enemy: Success! Jealousy found a place to sit among an electorate divided between poor and rich. Each night, we were reminded that the present administration had saved our American auto industry. For any further economic recovery, cries and pleas echoed throughout the convention hall: Four More Years!
Missing was a hologram performance by Peggy Lee:
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is, my friends, then let’s keep dancing…
Let’s break out the booze… and have a ball
If that’s all there is…