Saturday, January 1, 2011

I am what I am: political edition

Today, on this first day of the new year, I reflect back on the last couple of years and the stuff I've heard from people, seen from others and have had to put up from still others. Why do I reflect on it? Well, to be honest, I kind of got trolled on my Blog. And, if you're out there reading this, hi Steve!

But what Steve did, with his drive by invitation, reminded me of a few things that should be put blatantly here. See, I started this blog for the expressed purpose of letting people know who I am and how I sound (in the literary sense, I'm giving a view of my voice). This blog is, essentially, the window into just what the hell people are getting into if they ever have to deal with me or ever actually find themselves liking my writing (heaven forbid). And not long after I started it, someone informed me that they felt I should avoid politics and religion.

I think Steve just reminded me why I didn't want to do that originally.

You see, someday there will be a time when people are going to want to know who I am. Regardless of whether that person matters or not, I need to be honest with myself and those around me. And as such, I make my new years resolution: To live by the code of a great philosopher known far and wide.

Popeye, wise soul that he was, famously said, "I am what I am and that's all that I am."

Truer words never spoken.
So that leaves me with a mission at hand. I need to declare who I am, I need to live by that and I need to make sure that no one has any question about just what that is. And what exactly is that? Well that's what we're going to cover right here and now.

First, let's cover something that I know happens to run completely contrary to a huge chunk of my family. Let's go to politics. Or, to put another way, "why I can't communicate with my father's family on Facebook". 


I'm going to lay this straight. I'm a progressive. But it's not in the way you probably think of it. A lot of people think of progressives and consider them as some sort of insidious group of commie assholes (thank you Glenn Beck) or bleeding hearts who have no intention of fighting for anything (thank you Republican and Democratic Parties). But screw that, I'm not a tree hugging hippy progressive with no rationality, no sense of common sense or someone willing to do absurd things at the cost of myself.

So, I'm sure you ask: If I'm not one of those, what kind of progressive am I?

Well, back before the Republican Party lost its collective mind, it was a truly populist party of rational and progressive, forward thinking, ideas. Back in the day, it was led by Theodore Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt was the best kind of politician you could have gotten. He was everything that you could possibly love about either party and did it all because that's just who he was. He was an elite intellectual, particularly as a historian, yet he was also a down to earth regular guy who enjoyed the same sort of things as everyone else. He was one of the first conservationists in American politics, yet he was also a bit of a crazy bad-ass hunter. He was a jingoistic, close minded person who disliked anyone that wasn't "American", but he didn't care what color or creed that American was so long as they saluted the same flag. Everyone was equal, everyone got a square deal, everyone had the same opportunity to be the most interesting man in the world...once Teddy was dead and out of their way.

Let's face it, the man was a raging liberal in every way imaginable. He wanted conservation, universal health care, corporate regulations, racial equality and the "square deal" which outlined most of the same concepts as FDR's New Deal some decades later. Yet not a person on this Earth could have pulled the same political crap as today where they could try to say he was soft on anyone or anything. Why?

Because Theodore Roosevelt kicked ass.

After having a comfortable job as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt, seeing that war was declared, decided to resign and go get shot at instead. Leading a band of cowboys and ivy league graduates he took two hills with a volunteer cavalry that had only one horse. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor and went on to return to public office, asking to be referred to as "The Colonel" from then on. He never hid from conflict and was willing to go against his own party for what was right, even going so far as to create his own party when he felt the old one was going in the wrong direction. And, when he tried to do that, someone shot him. He assessed that the gunshot wound to his chest wasn't fatal, then went on to give his speech, announcing that he was fit as a Bull Moose. "The Progressive Party" was then called the "Bull Moose Party" in honor of this. And of course, no one could really have expected any different from him, the man never did anything the gentle, normal way.

This wasn't the first time someone had decided that they needed to hurl something at him either. Once, during an earlier period of his career, a little girl decided to chuck a badger at him.

Yeah, that's right, a Badger.

He kept it as a the White House. He raised it and let it run around freely as it chased people down the halls from time to time. Because nothing tells people who's in charge like a badger chasing you down the hallway of the White House. At least, nothing around the world's most epic Progressive of all time. And really, every great President has had at least one animal that could have done serious damage to someone. Jefferson had a pair of Grizzly Bear Cubs until they became too big to keep around the house anymore. This is something that all Presidents, present and future, should keep in mind from time to time.

And another thing that people should keep in mind is that there's nothing wrong with being a progressive. There's no innate weakness involved in it. You can be able to have the belief that everyone deserves a fair chance and stand up for what you believe in at every turn. You too can be like Teddy Roosevelt. Conservationist, activist, patriot, progressive...and bear.

And me? Well...

And that's all I need to be.

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