Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

No Snappy Title

Posted by Gerald on July 3, 2007

I remember watching Richard Nixon’s speech when he resigned the Presidency.

I cried.

I was only about ten, but I knew what that meant.  He lied.  Right up until that point I had just believed what my parents kept saying, that he was innocent, that it was all just political scheming by Democrats.  I had believed them, and now they were wrong.  My Dad was wrong.  That was big enough.  Unlike many, I had a great relationship with my Dad and at ten I basically worshipped him.

But Dad was wrong.

The President lied.

Why else was he resigning?

Why did this matter so much to me at age ten?  I don’t know.  Somehow I grew up feeling very connected to the symbols and ideals of the Republic.  I remember having a forty-five record of songs about the Presidents when I was a kid and singing those songs all of the time.  I can still sing the “Preamble Song” and the “I’m Just a Bill” songs from Schoolhouse Rock.  When I was eight, I won an essay contest on “What America Means to Me.”  I got to read it at some big function.  Dad missed it because of a business meeting.  I told him it was okay.  I don’t think I ever completely forgave him.

Dad let me down.

So did the President.

I got older and I grew up.  I learned about the pressures facing adults and I learned about human failings.  I studied history and learned about slavery, Jim Crow, and Wounded Knee.  Still, I loved the ideals of the Republic, even if the realities fell short.  I voted and I performed my jury duty.  I loved my Dad, even though he could be short-tempered and weak at times.  He tried so hard and loved me so much.  I never let a week go by without talking to him once I left home.  “Be sure to call your mother.”  Right Dad.

I watched the parade of smiling mediocrities who have held the Oval Office in the last quarter of the 20th century.  I watched the citizens chant “U.S.A.” during hockey games and refuse to bother to go vote.  I watched Reagan and Bush redefine truth and criticized them.  I watched Clinton disgrace the office while my fellow liberals and I looked for reasons to excuse him.  I saw my own hypocrisy and realized I had feet just as soft and muddy as anyone else.

I watched my Dad die right in front of me and couldn’t do a thing about it.

Now it is a few hours until July 4, 2007.  I’ve seen the towers fall.  I’ve seen us go into a war I believe was necessary and then another I’m sure was not.  I’ve seen the ideals of the Republic shredded by a group of venal and ambitious men behind the genial blank smile of their puppet.  I’ve watched Americans go from overwhelming support for this empty suit to overwhelming opposition and it doesn’t seem to matter.

I keep looking for hope.  The events of the last few days have left me feeling ill.  I keep wanting to find that America that I was so in love with.  I’m terrified that we have passed a tipping point.  I fear that disillusionment and apathy have grown to a point that we are going to lose all that was good.  I can’t find that hope tonight.

I’m crying right now.

I miss my Dad.


4 Responses to “No Snappy Title”

  1. imfunny2 said

    I have hope…
    Because there’ve been rougher times and the Constitution has held up to them, in the long run.

    People let you down all the time.



    But ****it it’s such a *small* sliver of hope…

  2. bridgett said

    Sorry that you’re feeling down. What Jean said. I am also inclined to listen to the constitutional philosopher Robert Plant: “Good times, bad times…” (I dont’ mean that flippantly either. I find great consolation in the fact that some rock songs sound every bit as ass-kicking as they did the first time I heard them, because great creations tend to endure greatly (despite, and maybe even better because of, the existence of Wham!))

    For whatever that’s worth.

    I was thinking the other day about ghosts and forgiveness and coming to peace. I’ve come around to thinking that the R.I.P. is aimed at the living, not the dead.

  3. Steve said

    Intellectual’s response: Welcome to the bitter end of postmodernism. We are on the verge of the neo-modern era (whatever that means).

    Fatherless son’s response: I don’t know what bothers me more: My father’s failings, or my inability to forgive him for them before he died. This is the way it is, though, right?


  4. Gerald said

    Thanks, everyone.

    Writing this was both painful and cleansing.

    I was in a horrible mood last night, and for no really specific reason.

    I had just intended to write about political stuff and not about my Dad at all. I began with the Nixon resignation because it was the first time I felt prfoundly disappointed in my country and I was building to saying I was disappointed again this week.

    Then I thought about Dad. As I wrote I kept bouncing back and forth between the two themes, and started to see them as part of the same thing – disappointment, falibility, loss, and regret.

    At first, I wasn’t even going to hit “Publish” because I had gotten so far out of my original track, but then I thought somehow this is what I wanted to say, so let’s say it!

    As to my concerns about the current political situation – I keep telling myself that the Republic has faced worse. What really concerns me is that when it did face those problems, there were so many people who were so devoted to making things work. There still are people who want to make it work, like yourselves, but it seems like there are so many people who just do not give a damn so long as nothing interrupts “American Idol”, or whatever.

    As to Dad. I think things between us were as good as I could have hoped when he died – but there are always going to be some things that remain unresolved, some broken pieces, when someone you really love dies. I do not spend most of my time dealing with that, but it does come to the surface – and at some damned odd times.

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