We discussed several ridiculous angles concerning the “explanation” where Gov. Cuomo governor-‘splained what constitutes a meal on RED + BLACK this weekend. We noted how this “style of leadership” has spread from New York to California, with Kira Davis mentioning the moves that Gov. Newsom has instituted in the Golden State.
We could have talked about Pennsylvania, where Tom Wolf’s unilateral and job-crushing maneuvers have been supported by a partisan state supreme court that also went rogue not too long ago. Just 2 years ago, this judicial branch snatched powers and constitutional authority away from the legislature of the Keystone State, re-drawing congressional maps.
We could have talked about other states as well, where citizens are complaining about either the lack of responsiveness or the hyper-activity that stems from a failure to work as a cohesive government of the people, by the people, and for the people – with transparency and thoughtful collaboration.
Yet, it has become so much more than policy authoritarianism by select politicians during the pandemic. Maybe Ben Shapiro was right: America is hitting the self-destruct button.
The Black Lives Matter Movement is not quite akin to the heroic efforts that people such as the late Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. C. T. Vivian led during the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century. Instead, the movement boldly flirts with notions of Marxism and other anti-democratic sentiments while offering these ideologies as solutions for modern-day equality in America. Of course, this flies in the face of the failures of every socialist and communist experiment in the modern world while also contrasting the reflections of successes that people of color earned despite horrific circumstances over the course of America’s history.
Today, teaching a deeper knowledge of American history is defined as upending it with items such as the 1619 Project and its suggestion that perhaps the nation “…was founded not as a democracy but as a slavocracy…” Many have already pushed back on the suggestions that America warred with Britain to protect slavery, yet as well, there is also high-profile opposition that comes from the halls of the US Senate. However, the same man that advances a bill to stop federal funds from supporting this curriculum in schools also pushes for militaristic intervention in some of the domestic protests we have seen in 2020 (in stark contrast to name-calling of “contemptible little men” during contentious times just a few years ago). Neither side’s search for equality, balance, fairness, and peace is being conducted the right way. It is as if the ability to have tact and nuance is lost in America today.
Is it truly impossible for a devout Christian or Muslim to be pro-traditional marriage without being hateful towards those that practice an alternative lifestyle? Is there not an avenue where an American Christian could support her or his church’s ardent beliefs in the merits and values of a husband-wife union while also supporting the secular constitutional protections that all Americans – regardless of faith, creed, or background (or even in the absence of them, such as the case is with atheists) are afforded in the country? Are we really at a point where such time-tested values (which also include “objective, rational thinking”) are now, among other things, viewed through the lens of racial backgrounds and ethnic differences, such as was the case with the National Museum of African-American History and Culture’s “talking about race” exhibit?
Are we really at a point where we no longer have qualifiers that determine what is truly “thought leadership” and what is just loud, angry sound? Are we really at a point where it is better for our successes in America – politically, economically, and culturally – for us to pick our kings and queens to devote ourselves to than it is to re-examine how the hell we got to this point, then quickly fashion solutions that make sense as well as history?
The very essence of America – and the essence that has continued to rapidly erode away in this land that I love – is a robust nature of the inter-workings of a republic, from respectful and passionate debates to unquestioned dedication to each other as citizens of that shining city on a hill. Today, we know famous historic quotes and we have memorized the cues to elicit applause lines at speeches. Yet, few seem interested in being American in the richest sense of the term.
Too many of our countrymen miss the point: “being American” is not an adjective or a characteristic. It is not a national language, per se. It is not determined by the act of standing for or kneeling at a flag – or even the ability to flag an outdated flag from the scrap heap of history. “Being American” is an obligation. That obligation has never been discarded more collectively by politicians and common people alike than it is in these modern times – ironically enough, in a hellacious year where we need to fulfill that obligation the most.
“Being American” is remembering the best of the Constitution in the midst of its most inconvenient sentiments, from working with a duly-elected general assembly during the fight to overcome a historic pandemic to discarding authoritarianism akin to Vladimir Putin when dealing with protesters (both peaceful and destructive). “Being American” is an embracing of the worst of situations – from the rises of Nazi Germany and “the Evil Empire” to domestic inequalities for women and minorities – and resolving them through perseverance and values. We push to not distort or discard the facts nor do we cast aside the notion that change is necessary and imminent – even if change comes over the course of many years and lifetimes.
Sadly, too many people would rather be right, be safe, be in control, or be comfortable than they are concerned with “being American” these days – from the “wings mandates” from Cuomo to the double standards we find on “peace and justice” in America today. With its diversity, robust talents and resources, and ability to lead domestic and global peace thoughtfully, America collectively can have those things we seek individually. However, we will never find them in the definition of meals and wings, the edicts of kings, and the continued walk down all paths un-American.