It’s Tuesday night, the eve approaching Independence Day. I look out at the flag that I fly, all day and by night to honor our men and women on First Watch at Pelican Bay. I think back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when Elizabeth Powell of Philadelphia approached a departing Benjamin Franklin and pointedly inquired, “Well, doctor, what have you given us, a republic or a monarchy?”
As Dr. Franklin famously replied, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”
These days, the mood across our country seems to range from wary and fearful to brashly confident to downright cynical. The comparisons to the early ’70’s, Watergate and a disintegrating presidency which witnessed Henry Kissinger and Al Haig tapping in on the POTUS hot line from fear Richard Nixon might actually activate the launch codes to save his embattled and failing presidency.
Indeed, everywhere one looks upon our national landscape and beyond, upon issues affecting us as a nation, the discourse appears to have devolved into a witches brew of puerile potshots, poisoned polemics and vacuous proselytizing.
Only partially in jest, I can hear the three-part harmony of the Kingston Trio, and their brief thesis on the subject in their “The Merry Minuet”:
Italians hate Yugoslavs. South Africans hate the Dutch and I don’t like anybody very much!
But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud for man’s been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud.
And we know for certain that some lucky day, someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.
They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran. What nature doesn’t do to us, will be done by our fellow man.
To wit: As for the Fourth Estate, the national media which, among other things, we rely upon to make intelligent and rational decisions upon which to hold our leaders accountable, as well with which to vote for. Depending upon who you listen to, that once respected entity, that actually counted among its number “the most trusted man in America,” now falls somewhere between “fake news,” “alternative facts,” midnight tweets and the truth.
On the subject of the Second Amendment and it assurance of the right to bear arms, some of my friends are intellectually and viscerally opposed to any governmental attempt to restrict that right. I also have friends who believe that Amendment should not extend to assault weapons and high capacity magazines. The former group fears that such restriction would only be the beginning. The latter says “Fine, when the deer starts shooting back.”
The first group believes that teachers should be packing heat. The second acerbically adds that every gun store should have a teacher inside.
So it goes.
On environmental protection, the left says it was crazy to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords and the other 181 signatories. The right responds that the melting of the polar ice caps and holes in the ozone layer are complete fiction predicated upon “fake science.”
The Left pontificates that 181 jingles can’t be wrong. The right replies that EPA head Scott Pruitt knows what he’s doing. The Left sallies with, “Uh, he’s gone.”
So it goes.
Civility seems to be a hot topic of late with Administration Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being asked to leave the Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, summoning up the image of V.P.-elect, Mike Pence getting schooled on diversity by the cast of Hamilton, post- play production, where Pence and wife Karen had gone for an enjoyable evening out.
As for both instances, sometimes rude is what your Mom taught you was just plain rude. Period.
On the other hand, as some were quick to opine, many who found the tawdry treatment accorded to Ms. Sanders were also in the camp supporting a North Carolina law allowing the right to refuse service in places such as… restaurants, based upon an owner’s religious beliefs. Add to that, wedding cakes baked for gay marriage celebrations.
On the issue of immigration, a lotta folks are outraged at the separation of undocumented children from their parents when apprehended attempting to illegally enter this country. Others have responded, if you (parents) don’t want your children taken, you shouldn’t have crossed the border with them in tow.
And then onto the issue of trade and tariffs in general. President Trump has significant and resounding base approval when he says we’ve been “taking it in the shorts” for far too long by trade imbalances harmful to America and it’s time to respond in kind-to both friends (ie. Canada, Mexico, England, Germany, Japan,etc.) and business adversaries like China. On the contrary, Harley Davidson and some of my family farming a few thousand acres of soybeans in Iowa, who voted for him, might be inclined to disagree.
Yeah, it can get to be a tad disturbing, going to despair these days when looking at the national and world stage. But just when you feel like taking that long walk on a short pier, or at least inviting a sneaker wave to take you out to sea, when you wanted a shot of hope and a glimmer of light in the encroaching darkness, all you had to do was look around our town, our county, this community as its life blood flowed down H Street in the Fourth of July Parade.
At its head, Grand Marshal Steve Wakefield, a man whose selfless years as fire chief were a testament to compassion, devotion and service to community. Hats off and a tremendous trumpeting of gratitude to you, Chief.
In a community that prizes its devotion to its youth, I saw the Del Norte Little League Softball All Stars, Baseball All Stars, Little League All Stars, youth wrestling, the fair rodeo queen and her court, the school bands and cheerleaders.
Add to that, the Shriners with their funny mini cars, belying their great mission and commitment to child burn victims.
To help us remember our past, there was the historical society, the logging trucks and Jed Smith Mountain Men.
Our uniformed service groups were well represented by the fire departments, police and sheriff departments and armed forces.
The faith based community was represented by several churches.
Other colorful participants included the Fun Runners, Parkway Feed and the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation.
Testament to peaceful co-existence was demonstrated by the presence of the Republican and Democratic parties.
Further, in the area of community service organizations, the chamber of commerce, Jaycees, Rotary, Soroptimists and Job’s Daughters.
Apologies to the many I have missed or left out, the sheer volume of which, space cannot provide within the four corners of the article,
So yes, sometimes it can get a bit depressing when you look at the world spinning around us, but on those days when it gets a little grim, all I have to do is go to my mind’s eye and the memory of a parade down a street on July Fourth when we celebrate Independence Day, here, in a community called Del Norte County and I think, once again, I’ve found the answer to Mrs. Powell’s question.
Jon Alexander lives in Fort Dick.