Look at this guy. The protest sign he displayed in Longview, Washington’s busy intersection suggests the stance of a one-time Trump supporter. Without anyone protecting him, his act of singular courage gives me comfort.
I am supposed to be knee-deep in my memoir, but the last two weeks were too much. Through the miracle of television, the same medium my grandmother and I watched the 1956 Democratic and Republican conventions together, I fell prey to the frenzy of America’s 2020 election.
If I would have been old enough to vote 64 years ago, “I liked Ike.” He would have protected us.
As I grew older, my mother told me about David Rhys. He was a distant Welsh ancestor to our Johnston family, who after immigrating to America, changed the spelling of his surname to Reese. That was noteworthy because in 1775, David Reese signed the Declaration of Independence in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, one year before the USA declared its version. No wonder I was able to validate for myself that I was a Quaker – and a patriot.
I cry for my country.
The last time I felt so much hope for America – 1963 – JFK was assassinated. I was on my way to a history class at the University of Florida when a fellow student asked me if I knew what just happened. I gave him a querulous look, so he replied, “Jack Kennedy just was shot.”
“That can’t happen,” I reasoned, but my disbelief was shattered when I saw a fellow classmate break down in tears. I cried too when Walter Cronkite’s voice broke while reading the hurriedly scripted report that Kennedy succumbed to his injuries.
I cry for my country.
What I thought was a worthwhile way to live became a nightmare again – and again – and again. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave birth to a dream, but his physical being was terminated in 1968. Next was Robert Kennedy, and I was shell-shocked.
Football was no escape for me. While listening to a radio broadcast of the Miami Dolphins-New England Patriots game in 1980, a breathless announcer told America that John Lennon had been summarily executed. Why? For preaching peace?
I cry for my country.
Joe Biden was elected president in a bitterly contested election and is due to govern on January 20. I’ve seen this celebration before. Already, the current occupant calls the contest “corrupt” and is asking Republicans to destroy the outcome. As a first offensive he filed numerous lawsuits, particularly in Pennsylvania.
I want to believe again, I want to stand up and praise the U-S-of-A, and rail against terrorism because of 9/11, but what does America stand for? Is it our territory or a transitory idea? To watch a so-called president attack the nation’s most fundamental function – a fair election in the birthplace of our country – makes my Quaker blood boil.
#45 sets the stage for a fundamental evil that pervades this “land of the free.” He is guilty of treason, an enabler for future terrorist attacks on everything I hold near and dear. How can he continue to spout his poison? Is this free speech?
I cry for my country.
Postscript: On January 6, 2021, my worst fears came true, as the news media chronicled a failed attack on our Democracy and its Capitol.
How it was planned, who was involved, need to be uncovered, examined and dealt with in such a way as to hasten our late emergence into the 2000 Millennium. Few of us will survive in a new Civil War where mass destruction is possible.
As hard as I try, it’s impossible to say goodbye to a remarkable Democratic National Convention without adding my observations.
Because of DVR technology, I watched the event at my convenience, extending four nights into five at my abode. Each night, I started my recording one hour before the program guide’s posted schedule, which came in handy Thursday night when the convention started 15 minutes early. I didn’t end each night’s recording until half an hour beyond its scheduled end. After all, how many political conventions end on time when broadcast outlets have an open-ended desire to keep going?
Sure enough, that modus operandi enabled me to see and hear everything. And the most immediate conclusion: the 2020 Democratic National Convention became a four-part infomercial to civility and decency. Michelle Obama reminded us of the nightmare we’ve been through, Barack Obama’s eloquent oratory punctuated his warnings, and Joe Biden made it clear, in his finest speech ever, we must create a new world for our children to face the future.
When my late grandmother, Grace Brantley Johnston, and I watched past Democratic conventions at her home in Portsmouth, Va., our aspirations for the country bonded us together. I remembered times we watched political chicanery and cheered for candidates who stood for righteousness. Those memories spilled over into some of this year’s convention segments and brought tears to my eyes, grieving over how my sensibilities were assaulted over the last four years.
How can anyone forget what #45 has said or done?
At my advanced age, I realize I will not be around to see all the fruits emerge from a spiritual harvest that Joe Biden wants to plant. But I am encouraged that generations to come are being offered a chance to create a just and scientifically sustainable world that offers hope to mankind.
Perhaps then we can wake up from this ever-worsening nightmare.
In a bid to have their egos and “values” stroked on another televised episode of “America’s Politicians and How They Got That Way,” seventeen candidates for President of these United States threw their straw hats into the Republican ring earlier this year.
While shedding themselves of Rick Perry and Scott Walker, one of their ilk made an extraordinary mess.
Trump Is Not a Happy Guy
Donald Trump, emboldened on past celebrity exposure, became the Koch Brothers’ pandering ringleader by riling the masses with outrageous epithets toward Mexican-American citizens, while Jeb Bush forthrightly held his temper. I don’t need to requote “The Donald” here, except to express astonishment over his latest salvo: He says his Republican rivals plan to start the next world war over Syria. Where do they plan to recruit soldiers: from immigrants?
On this website is “Virgil’s Story,” where anyone can deduce that Virgil’s contribution to my ancestry was a rabbi’s ingenious ruse enabling him to slip by U.S. immigration gendarmes on Ellis Island. You can read it here. My father’s later fame to claim was that of a renowned big-band musician; he’s one of many immigrants who excelled once arriving on these shores.
What would Donald Trump do with everyone whose descent evolved from ploys similar to my father’s? Would he subject our nation of immigrants to checking, double-checking and eventual deportation?
Of course not. That’s why I see the aftermath of Trump’s obnoxious mouth as a sign of the silly season.
Anti-Communism as a hammer
But why hasn’t Marco Rubio raised holy hell about Trump? As the photogenic son of an immigrant Cuban, certainly he sees behind the inherent danger of the “blame game,” in which politicians conjure up scapegoats to explain tough financial times, i.e. targeting immigrants whose ethnic experience differs vastly from Europeans.
How would Rubio answer the question, “Do Cubans think of themselves as better than Mexicans?
That’s not a stupid question, either. In Miami for 50 years, I became familiar with Cuban social circles ever since Cubanos left their island nation to avoid political persecution. Their exodus eventually transformed politics in Miami, and their brain-trust Latin Builders Association became South Florida’s money machine.
On their way up the ladder, Cubans pushed African-Americans to the back of the bus once again. I wonder if Cuban exile politics finds it expedient to expose the whole country to unfair categorizations of Mexican-Americans. When I lived in Southern California in the late 1960s and early ’70s, I discovered Mexican immigrants to be mostly deferential and anxious to stay below the radar.
Only when an undocumented immigrant commits an unspeakable crime does the reputation of that ethnicity become viral. I say, “None of these accusations and innuendos is good for the country.” Intolerant generalizations of ethnic groups divide us, and dash the concept of nobility against the rocks of vile behavior.
The Travesty of Republicanism
Republicans of the 21st Century are so dissimilar from their forefathers that they resemble miscreants who will do and say anything to get elected, while pursuing hidden agendas from wealthy contributors who try to remain masked by PACs (political action committees).
As a youngster, “I liked Ike.” I remember when conservatism was synonymous with “conservation.” Republicans then espoused protecting the environment; these days, I hear none of them embracing the inescapable fact that global warming is real.
What I despise most is that today’s Republicans have turned this country into a one-party system. I believe we deserve a choice, but how can anyone deny the rising seas that are a direct result of climate change caused by human activity?
We can only laugh when the sideshow of politics borders on the absurd. Let’s hope someone steps forward – besides a Democrat – who cares enough about this country to inspire a serious conversation. Only then will we be able to stop laughing at this train wreck of a long-running stupid, silly season.