FLY THE FLAG. EAT YOUR BROCCOLI. AND DON’T OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT
HAS IT COME TO THIS?
Do liberals have to boast about their patriotism?
Do we have to fly the flag?
Sermonize about family verities?
Lecture about good table manners?
Yes, to all of this. And more.
The very kinds of things liberals used to sneer at, mock, ridicule and smugly take for granted have now become a sacred personal, individual responsibility if our country is to survive.
It’s a sign of how low Donald Trump and his thug cultists have brought the USA that liberals now have to come out the closet and openly proclaim our undying love of and devotion to the world’s greatest democracy.
Used to be we could leave all of this self-serving posturing to the conservatives, who wrapped themselves in the American flag and appointed themselves as fanboys of the family, custodians of the Constitution, military militants, foster parents of free enterprise.
But now, the Right has taken America on such a dangerous wrong turn that it’s up to the Left to set things right.
And It’s Donald Trump’s fault.
He’s taught half the country that kindness, honesty, sportsmanship, compassion, law-and-order and the Constitution don’t matter. That it’s okay to lie, cheat, bully, grab strangers’ genitals, collaborate with The Enemy and plot against the government. An entire political party – that would be the Republican Party - has ingested all of his sacrilege and turned sedition into a new religion.
Leaving Liberals no choice but to become the new flag-wavers, public patriots and Constitutional choristers.
LET ME DIGRESS HERE to say that a) this is not a joke; and b) it’s critical we make a huge change if our country is to emerge from the nightmare of the last seven years.
Just documenting that Donald Trump is a political criminal, a faker and a traitor doesn’t do it anymore. It’s no longer enough to catalogue Trumps sins and the treachery of his Republican acolytes.
For one thing, it doesn’t work.
Trump can do anything, and it doesn’t matter. He can grab pussies. Redraw weather maps. Call counties shitholes. Cage children. Cajole a secretary of state to “find” votes. Fumble Covid, allowing thousands to die. And toss paper towels at hurricane victims. Trump can embrace Vladimir Putin, a dictator who meddled in an American election, which once would have been an act of war, then deputize a mob to to assassinate Trump's own vice president.
None of that matters to The Base, and perhaps to half the country’s voters, who soon could put him back in the White House.
WHAT TO DO?
The sane half of America has to rescue the whole of the country. And job one is to celebrate, honor and embrace basic values, so that ordinary, usually anonymous Americans continue to be the country’s guardians and its true heroes.
That’s the big lesson of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and Trump’s massive before-and-after conspiracy to nullify the election. Thousands of people most of us never heard of stuck to their principles and did their jobs. They counted votes, threw out frivolous lawsuits, repelled the mob and gave their lives.
What stood between democracy and dictatorship were individuals, with principles, who knew right from wrong and did something about it.
I hate to say this, because it’s so corny, but all of this starts at home. And at the playground, on the football field, in the classroom, at the library, during dance rehearsal, in the mosque, wherever it is that children grow up and where grownups decide what kind of people they've become.
It never occurred to me that Liberals would have to have to say anything about this, in part because it was shameless, self-serving Republican boilerplate.
Really, you shouldn’t have to say this sort of thing – I love my children, I love my country, I’m nice to our dog. Just as church-goers shouldn’t have to brag about how church-going they are, or how much you give to charity, volunteer as a tutor or give $1 to the guy at the stoplight who might not be as hungry as his sign says.
But our country, our democracy is at a life-and-death moment, and not one we asked for, any more than millions of ordinary people wanted when they went off to defeat Adolf Hitler. Freedom was not so much in the hands of generals and presidents, as it was in the care of mechanics, window-washers, insurance salesmen, lathe operators, fledgling lawyers and thousands of others who hadn’t decided what they’d do if they were allowed to live.
In the decades after World War II, it wasn't that the Left didn’t care about our country, only that we never had to think about it, much less boast about it. Quite the contrary, love of country was assumed as people were burning flags, draft cards and bras, shouting ‘Hell, we won’t go,’ and singing 'We shall overcome.' Patriotism was a given, which was why so many demanded that a flawed country pay attention to civil rights, women’s rights and environmental justice.
But now we have to talk openly about the basics of right and wrong, because good and bad are being challenged at every level of American public life.
We have to demand, both of our children and ourselves and fellow adults, that we pay attention to matters of right and wrong. We have to resurrect the whole concept of Shame, and it’s Goody Two-shoe’s cousin, Pride.
That it’s right to tell the truth; wrong to tell a lie.
It’s bad to be a bully.
It’s right to defend the weak.
It’s wrong to be a poor loser.
It’s okay to be polite. Wrong to grab someone’s crotch.
We shouldn't steal, cheat or be a sneak.
Raise the flag. Follow the news. Do your homework. Brush your teeth. Feed the dog. Don’t skip civics class if you’re lucky enough to be in one. Read a banned book. Don’t cuss (so much). Look up, occasionally, from your phone. Don’t run the red or floor it through the yellow. Don’t make fun of people’s clothes or their discovery that they’re a different gender. Wash the dishes. Change your socks. Be civil to your parents. Don’t argue with the ref. Don’t just pretend to be nice. Pay your taxes. Don’t yell at the kids. Don’t talk with your mouth full. Make your bed. Eat your broccoli.
Give a damn.
BRIAN C. JONES