OK, so there was a big change in Congress, with the Man of Orange ascending to Speaker while Democrats were sent a packin’. For almost two years we have heard the rantings of Tea Party types screaming “I want my country back!” Well, they have it, at least part. So what are they going to do with it?
Odds are, very little. Still, as a progressive who wants to see America move forward, is it my turn? Now, can I bellow “I want my country back?” Or is that only the privilege of the righties?
And just what is “my country,” anyway?
For the teabagger, “my country” seems to refer to a vague idea of a mostly re-imagined past when God was everywhere and Social Security was a private venture before that lyin’ govment done got it’s mitts on it. And the not so imagined past, where gays kept in the closet and colored folks kept to the back. And the fact that the times, they have been a changin’ doesn’t sit well with them.
Of course, not everyone voting for Republicans fell into the teabagger characterization. But even for the just disgruntled voter who wanted to see some change, or who was upset that change didn’t happen soon enough, just what is “my country?” What the far right doesn’t get is that there are many answers to that question.
America is “my country” to a young child born here whose parents happened to not be legal, just as much as it is to a child born of parents who can trace their immigration back to the Mayflower. It’s “my country” to same-sex parents who adopt a child. To people who aren’t evangelicals, who don’t worship your god – or, heaven forbid, any god.
America is “my country” to a poor family struggling to put food on the table every bit as much as it is to a overpaid CEO. To an underpaid worker who would like the chance to consider organizing with fellow laborers. It’s “my country” to a family needing medical care and being denied. To students being squeezed out of higher education. To people who like soccer more than NASCAR.
The losing candidate in the race for governor here in Oregon, as part of his campaign pushed tax cuts for the rich. And he also said food servers make too much money because they get one of the highest minimum wages in the nation and tips. That’s the right in America today. Thankfully, he lost.
“My country” wants to give people more rights than corporations. To stop the massive redistribution of wealth to the top. To see quality health care become a basic right for all. To be the America of dreams, not just of wealth for a few.
To the far right, America is a country for them, to be like them. And that’s not my America. To the progressive, “my country” is an ideal, a work in progress, always striving to be better, never resting on the past, but learning from it.
So I say, in no uncertain terms, “I want my country back!”