The political season is fully upon us and for as much as I don’t care, I can’t ignore it. I’m a moderate. I choose neither side and prefer to stay relatively uninvolved in matters of government unless where I see injustice, inequality, or freedom involved. However, given the tone which this election year has taken I feel compelled to get a few things off my chest. If not for my own sake, but also for those friends and readers whom I care deeply for and to keep things in proper perspective. This is the first of several posts on the issue of politics, after which I’ll try leave the matter alone.
I don’t know a lot about my grandparents history. I’ve picked up pieces of it over the years. I know that they “came over on the boat” from the Soviet controlled Czechoslovakia when they were young with nothing more than a suitcase to start life over in America. We always thought is was weird how grandpa would eat the stem and core of an apple until we found out as a child sometimes a single apple was all they had to eat for a day. If you didn’t eat every part, core included, you were wasting food. But their families came here to flee from tyranny and to give their children a better life than was possible before. The short term sacrifice of the journey to America was worth the long-term payoff of the land of opportunity.
You don’t have to go back more than two generations in my family tree to find Germans, Czechs, French, and Native American’s. I’d guess the majority of the US is that way. American’s for all intents and purposes are a bunch of mutts and America is a dog pound. It’s a country founded upon the greatness and uniqueness of individuals. It’s a place where you can have Little Italy a few blocks away from Little China. Where Christmas dinner can be a Honey Baked Ham or Tandoori Chicken.
I wonder what people like my grandfather would say about the toxic political environment we’re in today. He was proud to be an American and to serve his country, whether fighting in the war or serving on jury duty. I’m sure he’d reminisce of days when you didn’t have politics thrown in your face or where people weren’t ending friendships based on how they voted. When the two parties weren’t so polarizing, trying to define America in their own terms. “Am I not American if I don’t believe like they do” he might ask.
Why have politics drawn a line in the sand saying you are one thing or another? You can choose a group that thinks everyone should be in church on Sunday or another group that believes those with too much money are corrupt. Politics have become a choice between two extremes. Neither of which seems to care for any other group than the largest one contributing to their campaign. There is no fair representation of the American population.
No one will see true diversity at either of the conventions this summer. And I don’t mean diversity in “look we have an African American President”. I mean a benediction given by a Sikh or a speech for unification given by an Atheist. Maybe a Muslim cleric introducing the nominee rather than a celebrity.
America is marvelously diverse and our politics reflect none of that. The American dream that fathers, grandfathers, and great grandfathers sought was about hope and opportunity. They wanted freedom from government systems that limited how well they could provide for their families. And now we seem to have a political system run by opportunists, driven by hysteria, and lacking any cultural awareness to what real people go through in their quest to provide a better life their themselves. Hope is fleeting and opportunity is conditional.
Is this truly the America that any of us wants? Where political parties squash the underdog and drive a wedge between differing ideals as they try to define “American” in their own terms? But can anyone really define American? Are you going to tell me that American is turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving, not my grandmothers homemade dumplings and sauerkraut?