The Year That Wasn’t

When I posted yesterday’s entry, it occurred to me that I hadn’t updated these pages in more than a year. Not a single word. The entirety of 2020 has come and gone. Between death on a worldwide scale and the crisis that led to an attempted coup of the federal government, there’s been nothing in my own experience that compares. Any successes or setbacks in my own life are shamefully petty in light of what everyone else has endured. Millions are dead. Faith in our leadership has been shattered. My personal inconveniences (and that’s all they are, inconveniences) amount to very little. So I’ll neither share nor complain, and focus on the future instead with hope and determination. The new year can–and will–be better than the last. It’s up to us. We can’t do otherwise.

And Then January 6 Happened

The events of January 6 have stirred up decades of frustration for me, dating back to when I first started paying attention to such things at age 14. (For the curious, I’m just shy of 63.) I believe in healthy, productive debate between differing points of view. This is where wisdom begins. As a lifelong Democrat (that being my family heritage) I have no issue with the Republican Party, which has produced a great many good and honorable men. My issue and frustration is with conservatives, the ones who hold themselves to be the true custodians of American ideals and values, while blaming liberals for everything that is not. And it galls me to watch the people who stormed the Capital of the United States waving our flag, their faces painted red, white, and blue, as if those sacred symbols were theirs and theirs alone. But the history of our country is undeniable: conservatives have been on the wrong side from the very beginning. 1780s: the liberal Northern states wanted the abolition of slavery to be written directly into the Constitution. The conservative pro-slavery Southern states opposed. They won the day. 1860s: despite the above, the conservative states fired the shot that ignited the Civil War. Even after losing, conservatives passed laws that denied free blacks the same liberties as whites for the next hundred years. 1910s: conservatives opposed the right for women to vote. 1930s: conservatives opposed the New Deal. 1950s: conservatives opposed black children being allowed to attend white schools, while happily fingering their neighbors as pinkos and communists. 1960s: conservatives opposed the civil rights movement and the Great Society. 1970s: conservatives continued to oppose equal rights for women, the LGBTQ community, Roe vs Wade, and laws to protect the environment. The 1980s saw the rise of the arch-conservative Evangelical Right as a political force, that sought to erase the constitutional line between Church and State. 2000s: conservatives opposed the election of our first black president and fought for eight years to bring him down. They failed. 2010s: conservatives opposed marriage equality and supported ongoing LGBTQ discrimination. 2016: conservatives elected a racist sociopath as president, despite decades of evidence proving him to be so. Four years later, they voted for him again. GOP leadership said they could keep him in line. They failed. So here we are in the 2020s, two hundred and forty years after all this began (three hundred and sixty years, in point of fact, when the first blacks were brought to our shores in chains) and nothing is fundamentally different. We pretend it is, and look back on the good old days with fondness and longing. (Conservatives are especially adept at this. “Oh I wish I was in the land of cotton, old times there are not forgotten.”) And then January 6 happens, and terrorists waving our flag and colors are heralded as patriots, while the liberals who’ve championed every cause that conservatives have opposed are still painted as un-American with the broadest of brushes. And I’m frustrated, and angry, and very very sad.