Monday, September 15, 2008

I Just Don't Get It.

I'm confused. Recently, I've been present at two public events of the type that would customarily be kicked off with The National Anthem. At these events, however, the kick off was accomplished, not with The Star Spangled Banner, but with the song, America The Beautiful. Not an anthem, but a song. Just a song. Nevertheless, everyone at the event (everyone but me) stood at attention and placed their hands over their hearts. I felt like an outsider, and I wondered if the day would come when some of the patriotic C&W songs like God Bless The U.S.A. would elicit a similar response. I just don't get it.

This recent experience of mine ties into my feelings about the political news these days. Out of nowhere comes Sarah Palin, a kind of political version of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, and the country falls all over her because she shoots a hunting rifle. These members of the Palin Posse are pretty much the same people who don't know that John Wayne was never a cowboy. I just don't get it.

Then, this morning, it was announced that Lehman Brothers went belly-up (financially speaking) while we all slept last night. The old banking house went back some 150-plus years to a time before the American Civil War, and it survived The Great Depression, but it couldn't survive the mortgage meltdown that George W. Bush describes as a "sound economy." Much of the mortgage banking business has been nationalized already (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) but evidently the Feds decided at this late stage of the game that nationalizing business institutions didn't look quite right in a free market capitalism. Somehow, the news this morning didn't look much like America The Beautiful, and God didn't seem to be blessing the financial sector of the U.S.A., but I doubt if the Palin Posse paid much attention. I just don't get it.

Here's what I know: all democracies are temporary. No democracy has lasted more than 250-300 years. The democratic form of government goes away when the elected officials cease to put the public good above all else. We all know that, but what we don't know is this: do the citizens in a dying democracy maintain their patriotism to the bitter end? Do they see things the way they want them to be, rather than the way they are? I suspect so. But I just don't get it.

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