America(n) Rules

America(n) Rules

Rule #1: Don’t be a fucking idiot. Idiots don’t think rationally, they just spew emotionally. Yeah, social media is a terrific vessel, but don’t make it a toilet.

Rule #2: We ain’t going back. Ever. Roe v. Wade ain’t coming back up for a vote, religion ain’t entering our schools, bakers aren’t going to discriminate and there will never be a wall on our southern border. That ship has sailed. Find something new to be pissed about.

Rule #3: No one’s coming for your guns. They should and I wish they would, but that’ll never happen. So there, Ted Nugent …you win.

Rule #4: We suck at war. Yes, we were raised on Clint Eastwood versions of ass-kick’n Americans, bravery and grit…but the fact is, it’s a nasty business and we have a history of failing miserably. Also, know this: We don’t have brave men and women of the armed forces…we have kids in uniforms. So cease with the glorious reruns; the world has changed and it’s high-time our view of it followed suit.

Rule #5: The chances of Congress enacting “term limits” is on par with their impending pay cut. Ain’t gonna happen…ever. So stop bitching about what a sorry lot they are. That’s how it works; you get elected to stay elected and you stay elected to represent yourself.

Rule #6: It’s only a matter of time before we adopt a single-payer healthcare system. We determine how long that takes, so don’t write your congressman…write your local newspaper. Let the media do the heavy lifting on this issue.

Rule #7: Fuck off with your techno-bashing. A nation full of people walking around with their noses glued to their phones is a good thing. It signals information gathering, entertainment, interpersonal relationships and up to the minute enlightenment.

Rule #8: The curtain’s been pulled back on Christianity. We are the first generation to say what our parents were thinking all along: If what you’re selling was true, you wouldn’t need to sell it.

Rule #9: Grow a pair. If you see or hear bullying, racism, misogyny or xenephobia …speak up. You’ll never need to apologize for standing on the right side of history and the chances are good that someone will have your back.

Rule #10: Cease with the exceptionalism. We ain’t the greatest nation on Earth; we’re one of the many wonderful countries that stake a claim in this world. We each have treasures and warts…and this ain’t a competition.

Look at you, America

Look at you, America

It should never have come to this, but it’s not Donald Trump’s fault. Quite the contrary, I say more power to him for catching a wave and shredding it. This is America, after all. I don’t really care that he’s a bigot or that he yuks it up “locker room” style. It doesn’t bother me that he’s not terribly intelligent or that he’s the last to realize what a tasteless buffoon he really is. The world is full of assholes. Hell, I’m one of them…but here’s the thing. I don’t nurture assholeism. I don’t spur the manifestation of the least desirable human characteristics in people. I don’t broadcast seeds of resentment and bitter indignation. More importantly, I know the difference between patriotism and nationalism. No America, Donald’s not the fucktard in this equation; you are.

You’re the first to wax patriotic over a 2nd string quarterback kneeling during our national fight song. You’re quick to (for fuck’s sake) attempt to rename a side item, “Freedom Fries” and to proudly proclaim the asinine axiom “Freedom isn’t Free” … and now you want to make America great again with Chinese ballcaps? You. Yes you, you obese American patriot —you are the problem. You, the guy who thinks we’re undisputedly the most exceptional country on the planet because we defeated the Germans 50 years ago. You, the red, white and blue-neck who thinks the 2nd Amendment was written with assault rifles in mind. You, the self-righteous baker, who doesn’t want to serve “different” people. You, the holier-than-thou deist, who thinks the absence of prayer in schools has ripped the moral fiber of our nation. You, the war mongering GI-John Wayne, who thinks our foreign diplomacy eventually boils down to bombing our way out of any global quagmire. You, the sanctimonious right-to-lifer, who thinks the answer to a multifaceted issue is “just say no.” You, the faith-filled skeptic, who believes in an invisible God but mocks the evidence of climate change. You, Truthers, Birthers and Sandy Hook hoaxers — you are the problem with this country. Your inability to reason is directly responsible for P. T. Barnum incarnate getting a whiff of the world’s most powerful office.

Truth be told: Donald knows bullshit when he hears it; you don’t. You hear Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson and think, “Yes, someone’s finally telling it like it is.” Donald hears those clowns and thinks, “Nice work fellows, but you can’t con a con.” You watch FOX News and shit your pants over everything from a PTSD marine stuck in a Mexican prison to Ebola to the Syrians supposedly strolling their baby bombers through your neighborhood. FOX isn’t to blame for that propaganda; you are. You watch Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews and surmise W Bush is a dolt, Cheney orchestrated the IRAQ war and Reid and Pelosi are just trying to help the poor. Are you starting to connect the dots here? Here’s another clue: Jesus ain’t the problem with Christianity….“Christians” are.

Yes, we have a divided nation, but it’s not a political divide. It’s not an educational, housing, wealth, health or opportunity divide. Disparity will always have a home in those sectors of society. No, the reason we suffer as a divided nation is because half of us are idiots. Don’t take offense; we’re not talking education here. We’re talking about non-rational thinkers…and here’s what you need to know about them: They know no geographical or socioeconomic bounds. The fact that these dregs of puzzlement cross all zones of our society is quite the phenomenon, but just as remarkable is the ease with which they assimilate into our personal folds. You may hold the fondest, life-long admiration and respect for someone, only to witness a cringe-worthy projection of ignorance tumble from their pie hole. That time-stamped moment of fractured logic is also the exact moment your psyche jolts your perception. It’s not “game over” for your interpersonal relationships, but it’s damn sure “game changer.” This is how families, friends, lovers and virtual ilk…split. And it’s a good thing they do, as we can’t have everyone tacitly burying their heads in the sand in an effort to keep the peace. This is not to say we shouldn’t be accepting of others and mindful of diversity. This is to say, don’t be a schmuck and perpetuate the idiocy. If you hear bullshit, call it.

 

As a born-again atheist, you’d think that I’d be topping the skepticism charts — and you’d be wrong. There are those among us who will readily put aside a lifetime of experiences in lieu of a fantastic alternative. Just so you know, I’m not singling out the Area 51/UFO theorists, the faked moonshot folks or Pat Roberts. (That’s a different category altogether — not so much idiocy as tinfoilishness.) No, what I’m referring to are the modern era conspiracy peeps and partisan blowhards who readily suck up FOX News, Ted Nugent, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Alex Jones, Breitbart, Tucker Carlson, Ann Coulter…and… Huffington Post, Michael Moore, Ed Shultz, Bill Maher, Keith Olbermann, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow. Those partisan hacks are easy to identify; and like Donald Trump, they are not the problem — their believers are.

Granted, women will mindlessly vote against their own well-being. And the poor will remain malnourished by the lip service they receive from the left. The evangelicals will vote as blindly as their faith. Old white men will beat their imperialistic chests despite the risk of body-bagging their sons and daughters. The 1% will, for the most part, remain indifferent. Xenophobes and racists will scratch and claw to keep things the way they “used to be”…never once considering how horrific things “used to be.” But here’s the thing you need to grasp: Diversity of thought refers to opposing or differing opinions on a spectrum of issues. It does not refer to rational perspectives vs. emotional cluelessness. It’s not a shouting match or a battle of ad hominems and tasteless memes. If you’re really that adamant, or that adamantly repulsed, about an issue, don’t you owe it to yourself to take a peek at the other side of the equation? Otherwise we’re just orchestrating an unwinnable pissing contest. The fact is, we don’t move forward without some honest introspection, and the certainty with which this country is struggling to rise above the political fray is emblematic of its inferiority.

 

This may sting a little, but take a look in the mirror, America. You were once the world’s star — and now look at you. Your shining countenance is now a bitchy resting face. Racial and homophobic blemishes you once vanquished with a smidge of concealer are now age spots that require laser surgery. Your supple skin tones are now leathered, war-torn drapes of flesh. Your agile prance into the future is now a seditious plod. While you were cataloging your photo albums of glory, time crept up beside you. Take a look in the mirror now, America. You are molting. In a few short decades you will barely resemble your former self. The transformation is inevitable, and yet, like the aging movie star and the tattered old war veteran, you are saddened to leave the fame behind. Well, that’s your dumbass — but fear not, America of old. We will always love, respect and appreciate you, but it is indeed time for you to go. Please don’t sully your accomplishments with a tantrum-laced curtain call. Please don’t risk the embarrassment of our having to escort you out of the 20th century. Go with your dignity intact. No, the new America won’t look or act anything like you did during your prime. Nor should it. The new America will be stronger than you, not through brute strength, bravery and human sacrifice but through wisdom, pragmatism and respect for others. The new America will be friendlier than you, more inclusive, more tolerant, more talented, more capable, more exciting, more innovative, more diverse, more intelligent and more peaceful than you. And just like you, the new America will have a plethora of domestic and foreign problems to reconcile. The new America will succeed, stumble and fail…and renew again. So really, this is just a process. We are a dynamic entity. We cannot, nor will we ever, find a sweet spot in our growth and cling to it as if we’ve accomplished our goal as a nation. The only constant state along our journey is the state of transition. So go ahead and love your old-school mores. Sit back and smile with pride as you recollect your history. And absolutely question the direction we are now headed, but don’t obstinately attempt to hold back time. We are evolving. Your hair is thinning and you’re in the back seat now. Please don’t indiscriminately bark driving instructions — the rest of us will just smirk at your comb over and seriously contemplate leaving you behind at the next stop.

Ron Hesmer

POST ELECTION UPDATE: Forget what I said about leaving the 20th century…we’re gonna be here awhile.

November 6, 2016