Taking back America
September 6, 2012 3 Comments
I didn’t really pay a lot of attention to last week’s Republican convention. It wasn’t really my thing, if you see what I mean. I have to say, though, that as political conventions go, it did not seem to be a five-star success. First there wasHurricane Isaac, which put a little dent in their schedule; then there were the little incidents, like the attendee who threw a handful of nuts at an African-American camerawoman on the convention floor and yelled, “This is how we treat animals!”, and the Ron Paul almost-floorfight. Also there was the highly peculiar Clint Eastwood speech, which got far more coverage than Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech.
All these things, though, seem pale when put beside one throwaway line used by Romney in many of his speeches lately: “We’re going to take back America.”
I confess I didn’t react to it right away. Partner pointed it out to me, and the more I thought about it, the worse it got, and the angrier it made me.
First of all, three questions:
- Who’s this “we”?
- What exactly does he mean by “America”?
- From whom does he intend to take it back?
I suppose the GOP party-line answer would be: “We (the right-thinking conservatives and hard-working honest real patriots of the United States) are going to take back America (which is a great, open-hearted network of small towns and hard-working honest real patriots, who only ask to be left alone in their daily lives and earn their honest livings) from the special interests that have hijacked “America” (fringe groups, government bureaucrats, etc.).”
But, as with so many other political statements, there’s some slippage of meaning here.
“We,” delivered by a man as white as Romney to an overwhelmingly white audience, can also be understood to mean “we white people.” When delivered by an aw-shucks Mormon to a mostly-Christian audience, it can be understood to mean “we Christians.” I could keep the list going, but you can do that yourself.
Now, “America.” I read that as “a mythical country, part Dodge City and part Camelot, where every man can do whatever the hell he wants to do.” Regulations? Fooey. They keep “honest businessmen” from making money. Who needs ‘em? (We do. Go read “The Jungle” for a picture of an unregulated food industry. And that was not so very long ago.) Gun control is unnecessary; what we need are more guns on the streets. Then – you’ll see – you’ll see a lot less violence.
And this is the one that pains and angers and hurts me the most: Who are Mitt and friends taking America back from?
Why, me, of course: poor deluded gay liberal taxpayer me, who hopes to receive Social Security and Medicare someday, and who relies on “America” to help protect me, and educate the young, and take care of the disadvantaged and elderly and sick, and protect the rights of people who are not in the majority.
I do not have America in my back pocket. My piece of America is very small: it’s pretty much the patch of ground I cover when I stand on my two feet. But Mitt wants it back. I have no right to my little patch of ground: no right to marry Partner, no right to a social safety net, no right to health care. The straight white Christian faction will take their own country back, and it will be 1830 again, and Andrew Jackson will be President.
And then everything will be fine.
I know who I’m voting for.