Here in the good ol’ USA we just celebrated July 4th, Independence Day.
Despite all the nastiness and acrimony of the recent presidential election, despite all the political rhetoric and the vitriolic spew surrounding Trump, I find myself feeling more and more patriotic these days.
The reason I feel more patriotic and optimistic about America than ever starts with the knowledge that Donald Trump is not us and Hillary Clinton is not us. Neither was Obama, Bush or Clinton before that. Trump, who campaigned and won as an outsider, has filled his cabinet with old guard Republicans, senators and rich elites. Obama won on a platform or change, but largely did the same thing — he appointed the same old neoliberals and bankers. Bush lied to us and go us into perpetual war. Bill Clinton? As Jordan Chariton said, he talked like a populist too. But when it came down to it,
Clinton, NOT Reagan, deregulated the Telecom Industry. Clinton, NOT Reagan, repealed Glass-Steagall, the cornerstone of banking regulation for 60 years. Clinton, NOT Reagan, deregulated credit-default swamps [sic]—which was the gasoline that lit the financial crash fire. Clinton, NOT Reagan, loosened banking rules that forced them to make loans to low income neighborhoods. And it was Clinton, NOT Reagan, who signed NAFTA, which was the largest nail in the American middle class’ coffin, with the TPP potentially being the final one.
These presidents we elect are all out for #1. Their loyalty to big business and big banking is baked in from the start because it takes half a billion dollars to get elected.
“But Mitch,” you may ask, “that’s pretty cynical. How could that possibly make you even more patriotic than ever?!?!”
Isn’t it clear? Look –even Mike Rowe, that bastion of the right-wing middle-America, gets it. As he said on his blog,
These two candidates were the choices we gave ourselves, and each came with a heaping helping of vulgarity and impropriety. Yeah, it was dirty job for sure, but the winner was NOT decided by a racist and craven nation – it was decided by millions of disgusted Americans desperate for real change.
I’m more patriotic than ever because I know that we are better than these candidates or any of the candidates who came before them.
Americans are just trying to make sense of a changing world, trying not to fall to their doom in the ever-widening culture gap. As we fight for our lives and livelihoods, we do what people always do. We grasp at straws (like nostalgic slogans, antiquated economic ideas, fantasy jobs, and unsustainable minimum wage proposals) and play the blame game, putting everyone but ourselves in the cross hairs (like Mexicans, cops, politicians, scientists, evangelicals, you name it).
Sooner or later we’re going to realize that we are the solution.
George Washington didn’t free us from English tyranny. American citizens made their own uniforms and did it with their own guns. Abe Lincoln made some amazing speeches. But when slaves needed emancipating, we rolled up our sleeves, created an underground railroad, and started saving people one at a time while the government dragged its feet and got us involved in a bloody war. FDR didn’t defeat Hitler and empty the concentration camps, our soldiers did. Obama didn’t nail Bin Laden, our Navy Seals did. LBJ didn’t prevent unfair voting practices by passing the Civil Rights Act, American activists and the cops who backed them up did.
Americans did all those things.
Governments and their presidents almost always come last, long after ordinary people have blazed a trail. Americans are strong. They are kind. And they are the most giving people in the world. So yeah, I’m pretty darned patriotic this year.
And now for the workout of the Week.
Cabal Fang Workout of the Week #63
- STRIKING FROM UNCONVENTIONAL POSITIONS. Set timer for 2:00 minute intervals. Strike heavy bag as you drop to one knee, then two knees. Put one foot on the floor, and then stand up. Keep striking the entire time. As the Little Dragon said, “Hit while you move, move while you hit.” When the timer beeps, get on the floor and practice kicking the bag from every angle, with your weight on left hip, on right hip, on your back, on your butt with hands on the floor, back kick on hands and knees, etc. Next interval, lie down next to a floor bag — don’t mount it, you’ve practiced that plenty! — and hit it with hammer fists, palm heels, punches, etc. Hop to the other side and keep going. When the timer beeps, stand up and run through it twice more. That’s a total of 18 minutes — 9 intervals of 2:00 minutes each. Take as few 12-count (or 7-breath) breaks as you need to finish. If that’s confusing, there’s a video below.
- EXERCISING GUMPTION. After you’ve cooled down, set a timer for 10 minutes and assume your meditative position of choice. Regulate your breathing and think back to the last time you waited for someone else to solve a problem that you could’ve addressed yourself. This could be something as simple as not picking up some litter sitting next to your car in the parking lot or cleaning up the messy break room at your job. Or it could be something as big as letting a teacher or principal deal with your kid’s decaying attitude or not voting in the last election. Explore that failure and ask yourself some questions, like ‘How would things be different if you had taken responsibility?’ Record your thoughts and insights in your training log or journal.