Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Flag-Waving Democrats


One of the healthiest developments of this election has been the rebirth of open patriotism by Democrats and liberals. Democrats and liberals are patriotic, of course, but for a long time they let their opponents take the flag and the songs of national pride as their own private emblems. We fly the flag at the Gruntled house at every election, but we used to be the only Democrats on the street who always did so. No longer. Flags were everywhere at every Democratic event I saw or went to, culminating in Sen. Obama's rally in Grant Park last night, as this picture shows. In fact, my favorite image from the great event was a shot of Jesse Jackson, just another guy in the enormous crowd, with tears in his eyes and a flag in his hands.

Sen. McCain gave a glorious concession speech, and Sen. Obama responded in kind. Both were emblems of decent America.

The Grant Park rally began with the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. We stood for the pledge, watching the flag on television, at our house last night.

My favorite instance of flag-waving Democracy, though, came in a magnificent dispatch from Megblum, Gruntled Child #1, amidst the College Democrats at Swarthmore College, which she entitled "Election Reflections/Taking My Country Back":

Mom told me that in 1980, when Reagan won, many campus leftists were disturbed by people running around campus singing "God Bless America." Tonight, I called her to let her hear as a campus a capella group led the crowd in an impromptu rendition of the national anthem.

And when the senator came on with his acceptance speech, a funny thing happened. Having responded throughout the night with rousing choruses of the familiar "Yes We Can," at some point they switched to something very different. A room full of lefty, intellectual, cosmopolitan Swatties spontaneously started chanting "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

I have never been prouder to be a Swattie. I have never been prouder to be a campus organizer. I have never been prouder to be a Democrat. I have never been prouder to be an American.

14 comments:

halifax said...

I sent this to your e-mail address, but thought that I might post it here, as well, just to keep the conversation moving.

I don’t mean to throw water on the celebration, but I’m troubled by the fact that these folks are only ‘proud to be Americans’ when their side wins. This attitude also informs their notion that they have taken their country back. Taken it back from whom? Are they suggesting that anyone who did not support their candidate in the past and any candidate who they did not support in the past was/is illegitimate? If I recall correctly, the same process by which Mr. Obama was selected last night was used in the previous presidential election. That is to say, it was Americans who were electing other Americans to office. However, to paraphrase Orwell, some Americans are obviously more American than others.

Further, though the bien pensant types in the academy and the press seem to forget this fact, the Democratic Party has controlled both houses of Congress for the past two years (in fact, contrary to popular belief, the Republicans only controlled the White House and Congress for 4 ½ years of Mr. Bush’s tenure). Since the Dems still control Congress, I don’t suppose that ‘we have taken the country back’ from that particular set of party hacks.

By the way, the most piece of exit poll information that I have seen thus far suggests that Obama won the racist vote. Of the people who responded that race was an important or very important factor in their decision, 58% voted for Obama. So, should we call Obama the first affirmative action president?

Gruntled said...

As a believer in the center option, I think that one can be "prouder" now without having been ashamed before.

We have been treated to the distinction between "real America" and the other kind, between "real Virginia" and "communist country" so I think there is some sense in talking about taking our country back from those who would not include us in it. Moreover, I think those who would suspend habeas corpus are not representing the best of America. Taking the country back from them is a good and sensible thing.

I think race can be a factor in one's vote without making one a racist. The tone of the blogs I have been reading, left, right, and center, has been pleased that an African American has been elected president - regardless of what they think of the man.

I am hopeful that the country will be better governed a year from now than it is today.

Virginia said...

I concur with Gruntled and Megblum (and what a writer she is!).

I have lived for eight years now in a country governed by people who did nothing to protect the health and reproductive rights of women, who made gay and lesbian people into second-class citizens, and who based their policies on strict religious fundamentalism despite being a nation of pluralist views.

Those people did not represent me or my needs as a citizen, nor did they care about the needs of so many struggling people across the country. We are taking back the government so that it can do some GOOD for the people of America, instead of benefiting special interest groups and pandering to the most zealous.

No more.

Anonymous said...

Health and reproductive rights, Virginia? Call it what it is. Abortion - the killing of innocent babies. No one should defend that.

God help us from what we have chosen.

D-rew said...

I went to the White House last night during the impromptu rally and I must say, it was one of the most patriotic crowds I've ever been with.

Virginia said...

I wasn't referring to abortion, anonymous. I was referring to the initiatives that have passed under the Republican administration that prevent women from obtaining birth control at pharmacies if the pharmacist doesn't want to dispense it, from getting adequate insurance coverage for contraceptives, and from having sufficient policies in place that allow new mothers to take time off from work and still return to a job.

This is the same administration that mandates abstinence-only sex education, as if history has taught us that the best way to get young people to make good choices is to hide information from them.

So next time ask about my positions instead of assuming you know.

butch said...

Virginia,
After reading you statements I don't want to hear you complain when people demonize Obama for the next 4 or 8 years. Fair is fair.

Anonymous said...

Virginia,

Why should a pharmacist give up their right to religious freedom (a Constitutional guarantee) to provide birth control (not a Constitutional guarantee)? Just because it would be too much of a burden for the woman to go somewhere else? Her inconvenience trumps the pharmacist's right to follow their conscience?

Contraception isn't a cure for a condition, it is a prevention of the body to function the way it is intended. Why should that be covered by medical insurance?

Have you read the Family and Medical Leave Act? What more do you want? I was able to walk away from my engineering position for 12 months (twice) to take care of my babies and returned to my job. What more do you want? How much more do you want the government to inject themselves into our lives?

My apologies for not understanding your code but I'm sure you'll agree that the rhetoric you chose leads people to think you are speaking of abortion. The pro-abortion crowd has cloaked these practices behind that facade.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote]One of the healthiest developments of this election has been the rebirth of open patriotism by Democrats and liberals. [/quote]

Gruntled - your analysis is WRONG.

This was not a "rebirth of patriotism".
If John McCain had won these VERY SAME PEOPLE would be filing lawsuits and proclaiming that AMERICA IS CORRUPT AND FRAUDULENT.

This should be seen as what it was - THEY GOT WHAT THEY WANTED and the put their flags pins back on.

What of the Gay Rights Activists in California who got the President they wanted but had their ability to marry taken away. When they took to the streets in protest - was this for Patriotic purposes?

The Republicans DID NOT TAKE THE FLAG AWAY FROM THEM. It showed that certain people are CONDITIONAL in their expression of it.

Now let me ask you - You noted John McCain's concession speech - do you figure that had McCain made an upset victory that the Democratic base would have accepted it, went home and began to regroup.....our would we be seeing court proceedings about now?

Let's wait for about 18 months once the "Hope and Change" must be translated into a legislative agenda.......upon seeing set backs let us see how many of these flags get returned to the drawer.

Virginia said...

Anonymous,

It's very nice that your company has such lenient family leave policies. Unfortunately, they don't apply to all companies. Nor do they apply across the board to working adults who must care for aging parents - responsibilities which fall, more often than not, to women. It takes a bigger government to help those who need it most.

More than half of Viagra prescriptions are covered by health insurance, and Viagra serves only purpose - enabling a man's sexual pleasure. I can't help but see it as blatant discrimination that hormonal birth control is almost never covered by insurance, especially when - aside from giving women control over their sexual lives - it is also used to treat actual medical conditions like acne and PMDD.

Does a pharmacist's "conscience" trump the right of patients to receive properly prescribed medication? If the pharmacist has moral qualms about dispensing certain drugs, perhaps they need to find a new line of work, where they can pass judgments as they please without interfering with the health of others. Women who live in small communities may not have other feasible options for obtaining their medications, and again, it becomes an issue of discrimination. You read about plenty of pharmacists who refuse to dispense birth control or emergency contraception - never have I heard of a pharmacist who refused to dispense Viagra.


To Butch - I'm not demonizing or making personal attacks on anyone. Republican policies on social issues, as they have been enacted over the past 8 years, do not reflect my values, nor do I believe that they were in the best interest of the citizens of our country.

If Democratic policies do not reflect your beliefs, I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss and debate as the next 4-8 years go by. I don't think it's necessary to demonize anyone - President Bush or President-elect Obama - just because you disagree with their policies.

Anonymous said...

Virginia,

You've missed the point on the birth control. Viagra is a cure for a condition, it does help the body work the way it is supposed to work. Hormonal birth control does not. And excuse me, but if Viagra is only to enable a man to experience sexual pleasure then what is birth control for? It is for a woman to experience sexual pleasure whenever she pleases. I don't think there is logic to that argument.

I do think that your right to follow your conscience does trump the inconvenience of obtaining birth control at a different location. Your argument is that there is some little town somewhere that only has one drug store and their prescription can't possibly be filled anywhere else? Surely in this big old global Internet-connected world full of pharmacies, hospitals and on-line companies willing to fill a prescription, it is very unlikely that a woman couldn't find several other ways to meet her goal.

Is it your opinion that you must do your job without letting your moral qualms affect your decisions? For Christians, that is not an option - we are called to live our faith in the world. I'm surprised that you would deny us the right to hold a job just because we do not agree with how you think we should behave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act does apply to those who must care for dependent family members including the aged. It allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave and applies to all companies with 50 or more employees. I'm curious, what more do you think employees should expect? Smaller companies would carry too great a burden to have their employees leave.

People have to step up and take responsibility for their lives. It's not always fair and we can't expect the government to do everything for us.

Rebecca said...

I'm a few days late on this post, but if I may make my own assessment of Gruntled's "rebirth of patriotism" comment--

I was raised by two very wonderful Republicans, both of whom attended their first GOP convention this year. Though I often disagree with their politics, I truly felt patriotic as I watched my mom, a life-long educator, participate in the civic process she has worked so hard to teach.

However, when I woke up Wednesday morning, I felt that patriotism deepen from a vague sense of civic pride to an intense, emotional burst of good will, optimism, and yes, hope.

For reasons which I will not drag out here, I did not vote for my parents' candidate. I bear no ill will against McCain, but I do believe in the pendulum swing. In 2004, I voted for George W. Bush, but I certainly did not feel incensed with deep emotion the next morning. I had performed what I thought was a necessary task. Our country was in need of change; however, I didn't think John Kerry was the man to bring it. And furthermore, I wanted to give Bush the chance to finish things in Iraq. For the most part though, I was sickened by the fact that of all the intelligent and righteous men and women in America, these were the only two goons we could cough up to lead the free world.

So, was the deepened patriotism I felt on Wednesday simply the result of the fact that "my side won." Quite the contrary. I was so deeply thrilled by the possibility that for a time, however brief, perhaps there won't have to be "sides." BOTH John McCain and Barack Obama brought me to tears the night before (and here they come again!). For goodness sake it made me actually want to have children. It made me feel like I'd have something worthwhile to give them.

I know, as many of the posts have demonstrated, that there are still giant gulfs to bridge and wounds to be healed. And I'm not stupid--I know this is ridiculously idealistic of me, but damn, I'm really proud to be an American right now. When all the flags came out in 2001, we were unified, but it was unity under the banner of fear and defiance. So, however delusional it may be, allow me to now pray that the same flags can come out, but this time, let them be unified under a banner of hope.

Virginia said...

Anonymous,

You're right, the burden is too much for small companies to carry - which is why we need social programs from the federal government to help them out. We need to put money into helping the families who need two incomes and are struggling to care for themselves, much less young children or aging parents.

Arguing that Viagra treats a medical condition is faulty. Loss of sexual function and fertility is a result of aging in both men and women - but I don't see you arguing for a product that will give elderly women their fertility back. And, as I said before, hormonal birth control is prescribed for medical conditions, including acne and PMDD, and it is still rarely covered by insurance.

And no, I don't think anyone should compromise your morals for your career. But nor do I think it's right for someone to take a job where they know they will not be able to perform certain functions because of their moral positions. If you want to work at FedEx or UPS, you have to be able to lift 50 lbs, period. To work as a pharmacist, you have to be able to dispense prescribed medications, period. This isn't my personal belief - this is the nature of the job. If you are unwilling to do your job, you need to find another line of work.

Refusing to dispense prescribed medication is a betrayal to the people who rely on those pharmacists, doctors, etc. for their health care.

And now we're beating a dead horse. Thanks for the debate.

Gruntled said...

Rebecca:

Amen.