So long, bud
There’s no party in these politics
Our 24-year friendship was forged in firewater: We’d gotten sober together, supporting each other countless times. Our bond was ironclad. Then: politics. Snap!
Greeting Jerry near the deli, I mentioned my out-of-country move was imminent. He knew I was skedaddling primarily for political reasons.
“Good luck,” he said. “But there are problems everywhere, my friend.”
“True. And I guess America’s really not so bad if you like fascism.”
He walked over. We were now face to face. I’ve had ex-wives I’ve not let get that close. (Possibly explaining the “ex” part.) “We don’t have fascism here.”
I countered politely: “Another word for fascism is ‘corporatism.’ Anyone who’s paid attention knows corporations run our government.”
“Corporate influence is extreme,” he conceded, “but it’s not fascism. Besides, every country has problems,” he reasserted. “You can’t escape by running away.”
“I can’t stay and watch this government anymore,” I replied. “People can be part of the problem or part of the solution. I don’t want to be part of the problem.”
“Do you drive a car?” Yes. “Then you’re part of the problem.”
Yikes. Had I known I was morally equivalent to a neocon, I’d have demanded my slice of the imperialistic pie long ago.
Friend or no, I’d had it. “I do the best I can. See you later.” I tromped off to get coffee (fair-trade, natch; I’d already done my bit to rape the world). I felt bad. Minutes later, I was shaking his hand, apologizing.
“Politics can be divisive,” he offered. “But it’s arrogant to say America has fascism.”
Round two! Heated banter ensued. Jerry condescendingly admonished me to read my history and then reprised his “other countries do it, too” theme. For a guy preaching responsibility, this seemed, well, hypocritical (probably because it was).
“America is my country,” I retorted. “It’s America’s foreign policy I’m concerned about.”
“Then take action to change it.” I love the smell of self-righteousness in the afternoon.
“I have! I’ve written scores of articles informing people—”
Smirking, he interrupted. “You take care, my friend.” I’d been dismissed. The only thing missing was a pat on my head.
I recalled comments from readers responding to my satires about my fictional right-wing nut brother-in-law. Some have lost decades-long friendships over politics. Others no longer speak with relatives. The deeds of America’s ruling monsters don’t lend themselves to politics-as-usual discussions. There’s too much at stake to simply agree to disagree, thereby increasing the chance of ruined relationships.
Later, I thought of everything I wished I’d said. If I could have narrowed it to a single query about how to rescue our government from the suffocating corporatists even Jerry admitted were entrenched, I’d have inquired of my advice-dispensing ex-pal a question that has haunted millions who have, variously, demonstrated, sent letters, fired off e-mails, attended rallies, canvassed precincts, petitioned, sat in, stood up—and, yes, penned columns—all for naught:
“What is the solution?”