Tuesday, July 05, 2005

the frustrated patriot

I'm a patriot. By that I mean that I love America. I am not ashamed to be an American, and there are many things my country has done of which I am justly proud, from the technological achievements that catapulted America to the forefront of world industry, and its concern with human rights and welfare, not just here but globally.

I love my country, and there's a lot I could say, but it's been said better by many others.
There are things I don't like about my country. One is the assumption that anyone who criticizes our country's actions or finds fault with our country, its institutions, or its policies is not worthy of being an American, is unpatriotic, or even hates our country.

I love the fact that we have a democracy, and I love the idea that anyone can rise from obscurity to the White House, in that delightful "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" sort of way. I don't love the stupid two-party political system, and I especially don't love the incredibly ridiculous partisan bickering that we all engage in. I outright cannot stand how heavily stacked things are so the two entrenched parties can retain their power and shut out potential upstarts who might not only upset the apple cart, but take it away from them.

Here in New Jersey, voters have no choice in our primary elections. The county chairmen and chairwomen determine it all in the name of party unity, and the only bone that they throw to is to ratify their decisions. This year we could have had a decent Democratic candidate for governor, but a millionaire with a kickass fund-raising prowess decided he would rather run the state than be a nobody in the Senate, and so he manuvered left and right in early spring to lock up the party nomination before the rest of us could vote.

I did a write-in vote anyway, as a useless protest. I also had to get a court order allowing me to vote, but that's another complaint for another time. Suffice it to say that my children had an unforgettable civics lesson on how important our right to vote is.

As bad as our state and local elections are, national elections are even worse. U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) lost the GOP nomination five years ago because he wouldn't toe the party line; Bush lost by huge margins in Michigan and other states where they have open primaries, but he was seen as a better conservative image, so he was given millions more to waste on attack ads and dirty campaigning so he could win the party nomination.

I've thought of seceding, but that secession doesn't have a very proud or glorious tradition in our nation.

I don't love that we've never had a woman or a black for president. I also hate it that politicans feel they must feign or profess deep Christian faith to win. The only non-Christians, at least depending on how you define the term, I can think of in our nation's history to hold the top seats were our Deist founders. I hate that this is true of our vice presidents, and for our congressional seats as well. (There are a few women in line to run in the primaries at least.

Hillary is going to seek the Democratic nomination in three years, although I think she won't succeed.) The white Protestant male syndrome is pretty old.

I also really don't like having George W. Bush as my president, but I didn't like John Kerry, either, and I really don't like that we had only two viable choices for president. The fact that neither of them was a person I want to lead me is even more upsetting to me.

Some day, and I hope to see it happen, someone will run for office who will blow the two reigning parties out of the water because of an ability to inspire, because of a vision that we can all reach for, and because this person really is able to unite us, despite the thousand tribes that we have divided ourselves into. In the mean time, I wait.

And I hope that the office is still worth running for when that candidate does arrive.

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