Monday, March 01, 2010

I am an American.

Unfortunately, calling yourself an American has become a dirty word. You are urged to become, and praised for your wisdom and tolerance, if you call yourself a "citizen of the world" or something similarly politically correct. If you profess to be an American, you are usually called "jingoist," "rascist," "intolerant," "war-monger," "imperalist," and any of a host of other labels.

I dislike labels. Nearly all kinds. When I walk out of a 7-11 or a Circle K with a bottle of water, the label is off before I hit the car. I peel the mailing labels off my magazine subscriptions on the way back from the mailbox.

I will admit to using labels, though. Sometimes in frustration. Sometimes it is necessary to quickly portray to another person a specific stance or outlook that you may share. Sometimes it is out of frustration, I will admit it: sometimes I am a bit of a hypocrite on the issue. But I will also admit -- and it must be acknowledged -- that not everyone shares the same view or definition of these labels. Neither is it likely that any specific label fully covers or describes any one individual.

Case in point: I consider myself to be politically conservative. Let me be clear: I am not a Republican. However, a friend of mine took me to task this weekend because I commented to him how much I appreciated a neighbor of ours being unwilling to sell a parcel adjoining the neighbor’s home to a developer who was planning on putting in an apartment building. I commented that “a little open space is nice in the area” and “do we really need more apartments in the neighborhood?” I was the immediate recipient of scorn and disbelief: “I thought you called yourself a Conservative! Any true Conservative would be in favor of allowing the landowner to do with his property whatever he wishes; and any true Capitalist, like myself, would want to see him do something productive with the land. He should have sold it for apartment buildings, because he could have gotten a lot of money for it. Either that or he should rent it out for a neighborhood gardening co-op, or maybe use it as a pumpkin patch and Christmas Tree lot in the fall and winter. He could make a load of cash from that little piece of property.”

That is when I realized: I may be a Conservative, and I call myself a Capitalist and a lover of the free-market system. I agree with my friend: the property owner should be allowed to do whatever he wishes with that property and make as much money from the land as the market will bear. But there’s a bit of the cowboy in me. That part of me loves looking out from the side of an afternoon campfire over a beautiful, undeveloped meadow filled with wild flowers, while a mountain with no man-made improvements or construction towers towers over it all as a backdrop. No sounds of aircraft or vehicular traffic. Song birds, deer, even the occasional cougar: they all pass through unmolested. Nothing but clear mountain air between me and heaven. On second thought, let me change that: This is Heaven.

I shop at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and 7-11. I like making money and I like spending money. I like buying a new hat and new boots. But that cowboy winces every time he drives down the street and sees another piece of land -- land that was part of a family farm fifty years ago -- being developed into duplexes or apartments. Green space torn up and thrown away in the name of cookie-cutter crap-quality so-called town homes. (Glorified apartments or dorm rooms, if you ask me. They are ugly and of questionable value.)

That’s why I am re-committing myself to re-labeling myself. Or maybe you can call it “un-labeling.” I am not a Republican or Democrat. I am not a Conservative or a Liberal. I am not a Capitalist, Socialist, Marxist, or any other such label.

In my opinion, I am what we all, ideally, should be.

I am an American.

We are all Americans.

We should all start acting like it, too.

Sometimes, like today, I think that there is too much focus on politics and political views.

Last week I got into a discussion of health care with a good friend of mine, who has decidedly liberal-slanted views. He actually told me, “You are a conservative I can actually talk to, because you are reasonable and have well-thought out ideas rather than just spouting off talking points.” He then proceeded to excoriate Tea Partiers, Glenn Beck, the Drudge Report, and anyone else who dares question any piece of Obama’s policies using the same language used by Olbermann, MSNBC, the Daily Kos, Nancy Pelosi, et al.

Talking points. We are all guilty of using them from time to time. Fundamentally, it is difficult to get away from them. But maybe they should be used as a springboard to our own thoughts and positions on a given subject, rather than used verbatim. Or maybe, just maybe, we should refrain from using them at all, stop all the arguing, and just go ahead and fix what is wrong with our beloved country.

Most of the people -- the real people -- in the country agree that there are serious problems. And most of the real people agree on what needs to be done to fix the problems. It is the zombies in the country that do not understand. These are the people who change their positions with their underwear, that cater to the elite, who believe (as does Senator Hatch, for example) that their constituents are not smart enough to understand what it is they do, and that’s why they need their Senators. These are the ones that are out of touch with the real people.

They are the walking undead.

Which is, I suppose, better than being a Progresstitute.

But I am an American.

We are all Americans.

Let’s start acting like it, and let’s get our country back. The one that we’re all proud of; the one that we all remember being so great. Let’s get it done and take her back.

Oh yeah.... the cowboy in me says, “Giddy up.”

(Cross-posted at Spirit of the Law.

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