Let me get this straight right at the beginning. I am not complaining. I for one am happy as can be that for the most part my fellow countrymen and I comprise the lamest bunch of flame-throwing radicals in the world. We put the z-z-z-z in zealot. We put the fool in apocryphal. And that in the words of master criminal Martha Stewart is “a good thing.”
Why has this come up? As the blush of democracy sweeps over the Mediterranean the question arises: Do you think that could ever happen here? We look at the polarized nature of our politics. We look at the Tea Party members all flush with Pabst and vinegar and say maybe the time is ripe for a sea change. The gang is angry. The gang is armed to their chaw-stained teeth. The gang has even mastered the technology of the transport cooler so necessary to a sustained suburban campaign. Give a band of hearty rednecks a few bags of blocked ice, a steady stream of Lone Star and some Toby Keith, and they will hold that cul de sac till the cows come home–which actually won’t be long, because cows don’t wander far.
But seriously, however varied and spirited our national pastimes might be, we should not list spontaneous violent overthrow among them. If you turn on the news and find Tunis in flames, you know that the sweet smell of freedom is in the air. If you turn on the news and find Detroit in flames, you know that the Red Wings have won the cup.
Why are Americans so prone to spontaneous compunction? There are several reasons, the first of which is that deep down we all know that the blather being spread about how the populist right wing constitute the re-emergence of the spirit 1776 is a load of vexation without representation. First off, the leaders of the modern Republican party being American patriots? Please. Boehner would have been filibustering the call to boycott the East Indian Tea Company “because everybody knows that His Majesty’s gracious consent to grant selective charter to them creates jobs.” Gingrich would have been hawking Franklin’s sloppy seconds, and Michelle Bachmann would have called for tar and feathering without due process for any citizen who even thought about dressing like an Indian and causing mischief. Cheney would have been explaining to General Howe that he would love to serve but couldn’t and Sarah Palin would be massaging his . . . uh . . . musket balls.
The biggest lie that we know we know is that our brave countrymen took their guns down from the mantle and went to war. As Garry Wills has definitively shown, very few colonists who lived in the cities even owned guns. Our early war was fought in large part with guns scavenged from English dead. That’s not The Patriot. That’s not even Day of the Living Dead. That’s using guns when you absolutely have to then putting them away.
If the right wing is paralyzed by its liquid grasp of history, the left is even more a victim of its flight response. The only significant rebellious act generating from the American left in the latter half of the twentieth century was grounded in its categorical desire not to fight. They were going to overthrown the corrupt machine . . . you know . . with love man. Most of the hardcore revolutionaries in the Sixties left were spoiled rich kids–which seemed all right early on but quickly became too French for us. Neil Young was so blown away by the shootings at Kent State that it took him days to shake off the anger and get Ohio into national release.
Modern Democrats, in Wisconsin and Indiana, facing the fight of their political lives in defense of the sacred idea of collective bargaining, respond the way Democrats always respond in times of dire need–road trip! Let’s hop across the state line and hole up at the Chili’s across the street from the Fairfield Inn until things blow over. “Happy Hour, baby! I regret that I have only one Kicked-up Queso to snarf for my country!”
Our biggest impediment though, when you get right down to it, is common to all of our political appetites. We are just not wired for that kind of drama. Our outrage is diluted by the fact that we at once consider ourselves the bravest, most hard working and righteous peoples to ever tread the earth and the most pitifully picked upon. We are two parts Daniel Boone and one part Screech. We think we should get to decide who can be trusted with nuclear weapons and who is “ready for democracy” but wonder why they won’t leave us alone? We are committed to rinds of our ideals not the pulp. We hate both the teachers in our failing grade schools because our kids don’t learn and the professors in our finest universities because they do. We express our undying commitment to fight to the death for our Lord Jesus but lack the faith to let him handle the idolaters himself. Tens of thousand of Egyptians gathered in the center of town and asked as one “Tell us what to do!” Ten of thousands of Americans gathered at the end of the National Mall and asked Glen Beck and John Stewart “Tell us when to laugh.”
Onward Christian Soldiers! Marching off to war.
Hold up just a second, I have to check the score.
Christ the royal master leads against the foe!
I’m not getting wi-fi here, I think I’ll just not go.
Like I said, I’m sort of glad that whatever else Americans might be in this year of our lord 2011, we are the hucksters of history, the pussies of providence. We are the retched refuse of your preening bore. We can’t be bothered to engage in holy war; we are too busy bowing toward mocha. Nothing says “I have arrived!” like spending $4.50 on a two dollar cup of coffee so that I can be that person who thumbs his nose at the loser mokes who just aren’t refined and unique like me and the 4 million people a day just like me. My country tis of thee! My sweet 1080p! Of thee I sing!
I say embrace it. Sit back and wait for all of those people tossing off the yoke of oppression to take on the yoke of possession. Because the one thing we are right about is that the rest of the world does want what we have. Not democracy. Not self-determination. Not freedom of speech. Not even wrestling. They want the CW–ten hours a week of eighteen year old girls swearing like fifty year old sailors and dressing like thirty year old whores.
Ain’t that America! Hell yeah!