"The United States - how can you live in that country?" the man had asked. She had shrugged. "A lot of my stuff is there," she said, and it was then she first felt all the dark love and shame that came from the pure accident of home, the deep and arbitrary place that happened to be yours.
-Lori Moore, Agnes of Iowa
It was probably sometime in 2001 that I bought a pair of Doc Marten boots covered in the American flag. Ironically, I bought them in Canada, when I was visiting Toronto with my family on summer vacation. I was proud to be an American, and I loved those freaking boots.
I was driving in my Pap's red truck when I heard that President Bush had officially declared war. I cried a little, and vowed that until the war was over, I would not wear those boots again.
Sometime in 2005, I sold my American flag boots on eBay. There was no end to the war in sight, and I was sick of the shame I felt each time I saw those boots in my closet.
In 2008, I voted for the man who would become our president and cried again as I heard him tell our nation "Yes we can." I only wished that I could have been wearing my boots that day. But time went on, as it does, and two years later while we've moved a bit forward, I don't know that I'd be parading around town in those boots, even if I had them.
It is election season and I suppose it is inevitable that I've got politics on the brain. But for me, this election has been different. Maybe it's just because I live in Delaware and have been subject to these ridiculous Christine O'Donnell ads. Maybe it's because in between those ads are previews of Sarah Palin's new TLC show. But it has struck me how absolutely ludicrous American politics has become. From "I'm not a witch" to "Golly gee, I can see Russia from my house!" to one I just heard about recently - Republican candidate Ken Buck comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.
I know that all of these examples are of Republican candidates, but to me, this isn't about being a Democrat or a Republican. This is about being an American. This is about taking some pride in our political system and people who we choose to represent us. Partisan politics aside, I believe that we all want to work towards a better America. A country that continues to flourish and prosper. A country where we take care of our children and our elderly, where everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation can be themselves and lead happy lives. I know that we disagree of what that looks like and how to make it happen, but I don't believe that many folks would argue that we're not going to go anywhere very fast when we've got these absurd caricatures of politicians leading the way. It is time for us to demand more of our candidates, of our elected officials, and of ourselves. I would lead the charge, but unfortunately I seem to have misplaced my army boots...