God Bless America
I awoke with a profound sense of sadness today - happy to wake up at all - but feeling like I had been gut-punched after watching the events unfold in Washington D.C. yesterday. To see our U.S. Capitol - perhaps the most symbolic shrine to the United States of America overtaken by a bunch of thugs was almost more than I could stomach.
I have consciously tried to keep my blog as non-political as possible. I would like to believe that politics do not define my life or my observations - but I can’t sit back any longer. I will lose some readers over this post and I hate to see you go - I’m not trying to change your mind about anything - I’m expressing what and how I feel.
Those of you who know me know that I have always fallen on the liberal side of the fence if we must use labels to define ourselves. This does not mean that I believe in some sort of superiority reserved for those who support social and economic justice any more than I would condemn those who believe in small government nationalism and unregulated free markets. We are all entitled to our beliefs and we are welcome to formally express them every time we enter a voting booth, and I am a firm believer in the concept that our very best decisions come from having all of our viewpoints around the table.
Many things can motivate our votes - sometimes it’s genuinely believing in a candidate and hoping that they can help make our lives better - for me at least that tends to happen more often on the local level than on the national level. Sadly, on the national level we have allowed the politics of party, anger, and ignorance to intrude far too often. We cast anti-votes or frustration votes or just follow what our own tribes seem to be doing and somehow we expect a good outcome. Many of our national politicians have somehow morphed into swearing allegiance to a person or a party rather than to the U.S. Constitution.
I’m not sure why my reaction to watching the live accounts yesterday were so troubling to me. I do admit to having a real love for the capitol building - I remember my first visit and every subsequent visit. Washington D.C. is a magical place for me - it is impossible to not become overwhelmed with all of the monuments on the mall, the many branches of the Smithsonian, but especially the U.S. Capitol building.
The summer in between 6th and 7th grade my mom, my sister, and I flew to Washington, D.C. to visit my aunt who lived Alexandria, Virginia. We spent about a week doing al the normal tourist kind of stuff which generally includes a severe case of sensory overload as there is just so much to absorb. Without a doubt though my most vivid memories were of the Senate and the House of Representatives - both were in session when we slipped into the galleries and I first spied the grandeur of the chambers - and on the floor were Senators or Representatives whom I had seen on the national news. It was a game changer for me to see for the first time our republic in action - I could have stayed all day and I distinctly remember begging to go back the next day. I never lost that sense of amazement, fascination, or pride that I felt that day. This was where the rubber hit the road - where democratic principles were exercised and tested - this was America at its best.
We took our own kids to Washington D.C. at about the same ages that my sister and I had been and I could see that same sense of wonder work on them. In my nearly 40 years with the Federal government I made at least a dozen trips to D.C. and almost always I would tack on at least one extra weekend if not a few days of annual leave - and always - at least in pre 9/11 visits, if Congress was in session I would make a beeline for the Capitol just to sit in the gallery for a bit and watch America be America. So yeah, I was heartbroken to see the Capitol under siege - I just wanted to spend most of yesterday crying.
I lay the blame for this event squarely at the feet of President Trump. Ever since the election he has continued to spread his nonsense of massive election fraud and to fan the flames of divisiveness. He called for this “event” over the past two weeks and kept on facing the flames until his speech to supporters yesterday morning when he dumped a gallon of gas on the fire. He and his stooges called on the group to march to Congress and to be strong in taking back the election. He later tweeted that they were patriots, he loved them, and that they should remember this day forever. Even Lindsey Graham finally said enough is enough - that speaks volumes.
Oh I know - I see all the whataboutism online - saying it’s no different than the BLM protests - I’ve seen a respected community member here describe it as the Freedom March - and of course I’ve see the QAnon crowd say the whole thing was staged by ANTIFA - I am expecting soon to see allegations that all of the evildoers were on the payroll of George Soros and were bused in from somewhere. I feel sorry for any of you that cannot objectively evaluate what went on yesterday. I especially feel sorry for our country if you feel this is the preferred way to try and effect change.
Some of you will chalk all of this up to me having some kind of blind hatred for President Trump - and you would be wrong. He IS my President and has been since 2017. I have never wished for his failure for if he fails we all fail. Sadly that day came yesterday - his is a failed Presidency. He is hiding in the White House - ignoring the pandemic - not accepting any responsibility for the violence that occurred - oh, and just to show a true disconnect from reality he will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to three of his golf idols later today - you can’t make this stuff up. He did not fix immigration, Mexico did not pay for a wall, he did not win the trade wars that he started, he did not get rid of Obamacare, he did not eliminate the deficit. He did have plenty of time to golf.
There is hope - there is light at the end of the tunnel - this nightmare will come to a close. I hope that all of us can learn some lessons from this experiment. We have a potentially scary couple of weeks to go but stay the faith - remember - no matter what - this is the best county on the face of the Earth and with resolve we will always survive. It is time to leave the rhetoric behind - along with outlandish conspiracy theories and the constant attacks on our government institutions. Are they perfect? No - so let’s go to work and fix them instead of just assigning blame.
We can and will be the America we demand - but we must work for it. We must rebuild our institutions and allow them to operate free of political whims. Oh sure - some of you will just write me off as a helpless snowflake looking for my safe place (both my parents are dead and they never had a basement so that’s out) - well, if what we witnessed yesterday is how you think we should effect change, we’re just never gonna agree on much.
peace be with you - hendo.