It figures that on July 4th, I’d be pondering political or social questions instead of picnicking or lighting fireworks, but it’s been raining all day, so I began thinking a bit, which can always be unpredictable.
For a while now, I’ve been hearing politicians, and others ranting that it’s time to, “Take Our Country Back!” At first some claimed it was the fringe elements of American politics and extremists who were making those declarations, but I’d heard too much of it to dismiss it out of hand, so I started thinking about it and did a bit of research.
Conservatives and The Tea Party began using the phrase frequently, and it took on a bit of an edge in my mind when I heard it. It was used a lot in anger and vitriol, and I wondered just whom, or what they wanted to take it back from?
Then I heard everyone from Joe Biden, to Hillary Clinton, to Rand Paul use the phrase, and it was clear to me that “Taking Back The Country”, wasn’t so much about reclaiming it from others, as it was taking it back to what some people call, “The Good Old Days.”
“The Good Old Days” (TGOD), can refer to any community in America. anyplace you may call home can be construed as being part of TGOD, no matter when you grew up. But it means different things to different people. Rick Perry has used the phrase, and he’s from Texas. Barack Obama used the idea as a Senator, and even Hank Williams Junior has used it, (albeit menacingly) as a song title.
After much deliberation, I have concluded that “taking back our country”, isn’t what these folks really mean. They want to actually reverse time and “take us back” to TGOD. But it’s a mirage. I too, think back to my childhood, and long for the simplicity, and uncluttered existence we seemed to have then. But then I remember it was far from rosy all the time. TGOD as we remember them weren’t all that good sometimes.
Life tends to take on the warm glow we all love in hindsight, but I’m here to tell you people. Mayberry doesn’t really exist. I grew up in small town America, and we had it all. Ice cream trucks, swimming, fishing, bike-riding, baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet. But we also had divorce, crime, racial unrest, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and other stuff like Kent State.
I lived through all of that. I loved it then and now. I love the places I come from, and wouldn’t trade them for anything. But in recent years, I’ve learned it wasn’t all I thought it was. For instance, I discovered the beach club where I spent many hours and days as a kid was not exactly racially tolerant. I was dumbfounded, but looking back, I realized it was blindingly true. But in my insular world, it just never occurred to me at the time. When it was finally brought to my attention, I was abashed, and more than a little ashamed.
So when you or some one you know starts spouting about “Taking Our Country Back”, you might want to stop and reflect a moment. Just what do you want to take it back to?
I’ll take moving forward any day of the week.