Saturday, May 6, 2017

America is Already Great

Cherry Blossom season is the official beginning of the tourist season here in DC that roughly lasts well into the early fall. Of course people are always here in DC for meetings and such, which I learned in my former life as a congressional staffer; however, the visitors that come during the Spring usually include a fair amount of school groups. In our coming and goings in downtown DC since March, the Toddlersaurus and I have had several opportunities to interact with these groups. And, umm...yeah, things have changed a lot since the Obamas left the White House.

In all fairness, folks are rude generally. No one seems to notice the stroller until I am about to bump into them, and then I get attitude. I have expressed my frustrations on this topic previously, after an outing in Silver Spring, so let's just say that here in our Nation's Capitol, folks are generally assholes about yielding the right of way. And also in more fairness, I do not expect that much courtesy from a bunch of kids. I don't recall being particularly mindful of others when I was that age, so if someone happens to brush past in a mad rush to catch up to their friends and nearly knocks me into the street, I understand. I just remember to repay their kindness by rolling over their toes.

In the 100+ days since the Circus came to town, I have been observing the crowds of tourists that have been visiting the city. Of course many of these folks are supporters of #45, which becomes obvious based on how they are dressed. Lots more flag apparel, camouflage, and lots of those red hats embroidered with his "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan. Our ever entrepreneurial street hustlers are doing what they do to capitalize on all that by selling merchandise that allows the true-believers to advertise their allegiances. And I get that. Obamanomics was quite lucrative.

But those red hats. I see them being worn by children, and I have to admit that there is something very jarring and heartbreaking about that, especially when you consider that most of these children are less than voting age. What do they know about America not being great?

If you are able to visit our city, which is by no means a cheap trip, then that is great. If you get the opportunity to see your congressional representatives and senators (the ones who get to vote, unlike my non-voting congressional delegate), that is great. If you are lucky enough to score a tour of the White House which recently reopened for public tours, that is great. If you get to visit at least two of the free Smithsonian museums, that is great. If you visit one of the memorials on the Mall dedicated to a great American like Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King, or the veterans of World War II, that is great.

So I don't get your point.

See, I don't see that slogan as a mere partisan identifier, because it is clearly a statement of regression and repudiation. Call me a loser because I was a Hillary supporter, but hey I was an Al Gore supporter back in 2000. We've lost elections before, and I suspect it will happen again. But when I see largely homogeneous groups of tourists clustered at one of the aforementioned landmarks around this city, wearing their MAGA hat or shirt, it feels like a taunt. What is so un-great about this country?

What exactly happened during the last eight years that makes you less than proud of this country? Did the last President embrace a authoritarian despot? Are there any places you might go in this country where you feel unwelcome? Were your children gunned down in the street and no one was held accountable?  Were you really unable to practice or profess your religious beliefs? Did anyone come to take away your stockpile of firearms? Were you issued a ticket when you tried to wish someone a Merry Christmas?

I'm asking because I have this feeling of deja vu, and my suspicion is that it is your fantasy of what makes America great that you missed. Because if your 12 year old wearing his MAGA shirt honestly believes America was greater when we were on the brink of financial collapse, or engaged in two seemingly never-ending wars, or back before everyone had health care, well then ok. We are well on our way back to all of that "greatness" thanks to #45 and his round table of angry white men (and the few women they allow to participate).

Yeah, I said it.

I don't expect any answers to what fuels your children's nostalgic if you agree that my child didn't kick you while you were blocking the sidewalk, then I will tolerate your MAGA gear until 2020.

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