Even the American flag is depressed.
On Tuesday, June 5th, Election Day in Wisconsin, I stood on the Portland Avenue bridge in Beloit, with the swallows, ducks, and one Great Blue Heron, and held up a sign imploring citizens to Vote for Tom Barrett, the Democratic opponent to Governor Scott Walker, who was up for recall.
Why did I do this? Because I believe liars should be ashamed of themselves. Because I believe women, gay people, and minorities should have the same rights as me. Because I believe that voter-suppression is Unamerican. Because I believe the environment should be protected. Because I believe religious hypocrisy is repulsive. And because I believe Greed is a poison, and we could all do with less poison in our lives.
So I did it because I wanted to speak up in some small way about what America means to me. To me it means tolerance, and respect, and working together with all kinds of different people for a greater good. I guess maybe that's naive in this day and age, but that's what I believe.
Most people who noticed me honked their horns in approval, or waved, or gave the thumb's up. Some Walker supporters shouted at me, flipped me off, or gave me the thumb's down. Many just silently shook their heads at me, or mouthed the words "No." I tried to not take it personally. I reminded myself that if people had the right to voice their approval, others had the right to disagree.
At one point in the run-up to the election, it occurred to me that, truth be said, it might really only do little lasting good if Barrett won. After all, he would still have about 50% of the electorate who despised him simply because he was a Democrat. And the state, and our country, would still be bitterly divided, with no real solution in sight. Standing there that day I realized that it's not only necessary to stand up and fight back against the Republicans and their Corporate Overlords, but to reach out to my neighbors as well. To try to bridge this destructive gap the GOP has so ably aggravated and exploited. But how do you do that?
When I was canvassing for the Democrats I talked to one woman who basically said she'd worked twenty-five years at a hard job, paying $250 a month for insurance all that time, and saving for retirement, until her 401K was obliterated in the economic collapse. She told me she took sweet delight in public sector union members losing their collective bargaining rights. She wanted people who had better benefits, and a pension, to feel what it was like to suffer-- like she had suffered herself.
Divide and conquer.
How do you fight back against unlimited corporate greed? Unlimited wealth that pays for lies and deception to ring in people's heads every time they turn around? We're in a new world now, in America, and I just don't know where it's going to end up. What do these people ultimately want from us? A return to feudalism? When will enough be enough for them?
I want to be hopeful for the American Experiment. But I also know that all good things must come to an end.