April 5, 2016

CAN I GET POLITICAL? BECAUSE, I'M GONNA.

I don't see any way around it, really.

It is the bombardment of the year; constantly streaming from my television, my radio, my internets, my twitter. And it matters. It should probably matter more often but this is the reality and so we deal with it as it comes. Hoping that the momentum and excitement will continue after the presidential inauguration is something we can hold on to and cross fingers for and all that.

I'm going to start this treatise by admitting that to me, flying the american flag from my house has always seemed highly unlikely. I've associated that kind of patriotism with a display of borderline racism, a certain "hot dog, cowboy, go get 'em done and grab your guns" kind of mentality. I don't know why necessarily. It could be that my father's "us vs. them" rhetoric crept into my psyche over the years. It could be my brown, mexican-american skin and the many odd and slightly pejorative comments I've heard over the years. It could be my young and naive mindset. But mostly, I think it's because I hadn't seen many examples of other types of people waving it proudly. To me, I suppose, an American has always been a white person  male.

And this is all slightly ridiculous because hello, I'm an American. My parents are American. Their parents are American. And some of their grandparents were American.  And not in, got their citizenship eventually, please. As in, all of us were born here, most of us don't speak Spanish (regrettably), and few of us have ever been to Mexico for reasons other than to be touristy, get a tan, and drink margaritas and piƱa coladas by the pool. (again, regrettably)

So when Obama ran and won in 2008, I will say that it was the first time in my life that I felt proud to be an American. I actually considered waving a flag from my portico. If I had had a portico. It was a realization that something else is American. Someone else. All someone elses. And if he was the American that we Americans voted in, then to be an American meant so much more. It meant that our flag was a flag of diversity and inclusion and hope and community. And I should have been proud to wave it. Heck, even to slap a sticker of it on my car, on my wall, on my iPhone.

But let's not get carried away.

Patriotism, as with any organized, blind, allegiance, can be a dangerous thing. And I am nothing, if not wary of blind allegiances. See also: On why I'm an Atheist. (sorry, there's no link there but it would be cool if I had already written that piece, right? one day.) See also also: I'm a cynic but like, super fun and cheery because i'm human and we're all sorts of things at the same time. stop putting me in a box! (no link either but i think i'm onto something with that title) So, no, I still don't own an American flag. But I'm not ruling it out either. I'm still cautiously optimistic that I can wave it proudly one day. And here is where this election comes into the forefront.

Given the current Republican party's ideological agenda, I couldn't and wouldn't vote for any of their candidates. I can understand and even empathize with fiscal conservatism but to rule the nation by Christian principles and in the process, spread fear and judgement over all who spark change and progress and encourage equality for ALL, I mean. Let's just stop, please. So you don't understand it, then talk to people who are a part of that change, get to know them, and THEN decide. Goodness. Fear is most often over emphasized. But once you push yourself and get out there and address your fears and insecurities head on, you'll usually find that there is, in fact, nothing to be afraid of, and much to be learned and gained. Who said that? Probably Mary Poppins but she's a jolly holiday and happiness is blooming all around her so get on board already.

Onto the democrats we roll, then. Last fall, when things were just starting to heat up, I went to Vermont to visit family. We stayed in an airbnb cottage and when we pulled up, saw a Bernie Sanders sign in the front yard. Hank remarked on how these were my people already. And he was right, I loved Vermont, I loved our cottage, and I loved the hosts who so generously showed us around their property, the main house, and introduced us to their friend, a Bernie campaign worker. I honestly can't remember much of what I knew before that trip but I do know that after spending time in Burlington, Montpelier, and driving south and enjoying Arlington for a few days, I was feeling quite comfy and cozy in Bernie country. This is not to say that everyone is feeling the Bern in Vermont but I guess you could say that I started to. After reading and researching more about him, it was a done deal. Of course, I am inclined to like a liberal candidate so it wasn't a difficult decision but it feels like it did when Obama was running. It's as though we were on our way to progress in 2008, made a huge leap, and now with Bernie and the enormous influence of social media and the boundless access to information, we can finally wake up and see that we do have a voice. And it's ok if we all have different voices because we can work together and should listen to each other and when we all vote, the majority is heard and progress can be made. It should be an exciting idea for everyone because if we want to live in a prosperous and fair and kind and honest society, then isn't this the way?

America is about people of all cultures and backgrounds and skin colors and orientations coming together and working together and living for the common good.

I believe that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate to foster that mentality and push us on the path to making our country something we can ALL be proud of.

So get ready, flag sellers, because I really hope to be comin' for ya!

xo

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