Three: thirty-five PM, Pacific Daylight Savings Time, June 25, 2008 — on line appeared the following survey question, “Which candidate has the right idea regarding the Fair Pay Resolution Act?” As of the date and time cited, the results of the survey revealed that 11,633 had voted and that 61% felt Senator John McCain had the “right idea,” and that Senator Barack Obama was favored by only 39%. In only Idaho, Nebraska and in the District of Columbia did the Democratic presidential aspirant hold the lead over his Republican challenger on this issue.
Let me throw some context on these coals. Be prepared, I’m not taking prisoners, to deliberately mix a metaphor.
Last year, while living in Reno, before leaving in utter disgust and disillusionment, I belonged to a senior “discussion” group that was sponsored by the University of Nevada — Reno. The seniors, of which, at 62, I was the youngest, all had opinions. Of the 25 - 30, no more than two or three ever had much in the way of facts or historical knowledge or basic civics with which they premised their opinions. Like our stunningly stunned current president, overwhelmingly they seemed to feel their “gut instincts” were sufficient to validate that which they freely opined.
Across the age continuum I’ve detected the same level of ignorance, and the same level of readiness to expound ignorantly. Jefferson would be shocked, and highly disappointed. My guess is that, were he to rise again from the dead, 1.) he might prefer being dead to being so disillusioned and disappointed by what his countrymen had permitted themselves to devolve into, and 2.) he might feel his entire life and the notions of democracy that he strove on behalf of were proven wasted, that Americans much preferred being entertained than informed, and were thus unworthy of his optimism.
And that conclusion would be justified via anecdotal observation that Americans, by and large, had proven themselves naught but an aggregation of flapping-jawed dolts.
Oh really!? you disagree. Then, precisely — and no fair Googling before responding — what is the “Fair Pay Resolution Act,” and what were the positions of the respective candidates?
A clue that may or may not be helpful: Who is Lilly Ledbetter, what is the story, and what has any of Lilly to do with the “Fair Pay Resolution Act”? You see, regardless it isn’t much, I’m willing to bet all I have that few of those 11,633 have a clue what they were jacking their survey-voting jaws about; nonetheless, they didn’t let such an inconvenience as being shamefully ignorant prove an insurmountable obstacle to expressing their views.
I had the joy of visiting with my two sons, 20 and 23 respectively, a few days ago. As I explained it to them: this coming general election will have but modest influence on the bare bones of my life. That mold has been pretty much set in concrete. However, the results of the next election will be for all the marbles for them! Spiritually, it will also be for all the marbles for what will constitute the United States of America.
Let me define the United States of America. It has been my great good fortune to have traveled more of it than most. And I’ve got to report the topography — from the shores of the Atlantic to the precipitous collapse of the continent into the Pacific, from the talcum-powder beaches along the Gulf to the golden prairies of the northern tier of states, and all that is in between — is aesthetically extraordinary. But if that was what comprised the entirety of “America,” I’d not have risked an ounce of my blood to defend it, nor would I recommend anyone else risk an ounce of theirs. Such is not an “America” that is much superior to any number of countries.
“America” is the test of an idea; perhaps the most glorious and holy of all possible social propositions: whether a mixed-bag collection of free people from every corner of the globe and from every way can govern themselves wisely, honorably, justly, and whether they can and will discharge their obligation to always keep good stewardship over the bountiful and beautiful lands, the stewardship they have been charged with?
Long ago, my ex-wife once said that “Life is the most important thing.” I so disagreed with her on that that it set me off on a terrible tirade. I could not then, and cannot now accept that any American might possibly agree with her. Some, even a great number of folks, might. But I said “any American.” Those who are so frightened their life may be imperiled — the shrinking, shrieking, cowardly ninnies who cry out “The terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming, protect me! — that they are willing to surrender the first path to the first mote of their freedom are NOT Americans, no matter what their birth certificate or naturalization papers might indicate. I don’t know what they are, but they are certainly not Americans.
If we were to engage a great war wherein all perished, save just one person who survived and kept the dedication of the premise of the argument as uncorrupted holy script in his or her heart, the battle would have been won and every price paid would have been worth the fighting of it. On the other hand, if the nation survived and prospered economically beyond all imaginings, if not a single life or limb had been spent, though the nation had surrendered those premises and tenets, my feeling would be that all had been tragically sacrificed. “The United States of America” is so much more than some sum of acreage and totaling of demographic statistics, including the lives within the borders and the lives that compose the data. Take away the idea, diminish it, abuse it, and my life is no longer worthy of the breaths necessary to sustain it.
Have an opinion. Have a strong opinion. But make your opinion one that is informed. This coming election is for all the marbles. And please, have at least the modest courage to accost each and all who expound the way 61% of those in the above survey did with something akin to, “You better stop now, your gross and grotesque ignorance is shaming both of us.”
— Ed TubbsOakland, CA