WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

They say it’s our birthday …

It was a strange 4th of July back in ’74, when it looked like Nixon was getting ready to get impeached. He resigned a few weeks later, so everyone felt like the system “worked” somehow and shook out the chaff in a way that made democracy stronger, even though one of the first things now-President Ford did was pardon Nixon of any crimes he might have been charged with.

Then I found it to be a strange 4th of July when I was in London in ’79, and my friend and I got off the Underground at Wimbledon while Jimmy Connors or Roscoe Tanner was playing there – not sure which. Americans were all over the place and there was some kind of buzz that McEnroe had done something strange even though he was already out of the tournament. I don’t think it was even true, but my friend and I got excited about being in the midst of something American and fun, in a foreign country. Björn Borg won the giant cup that year.

And it was a strange 4th of July in 2001, I thought, on the heels of the Supreme Court deciding who to give the presidency to. I wasn’t in a good frame of mind that year, and, of course, 9/11 was only two months away, though no one knew it. We were all worried about sharks.

But it’s the strangest of all Independence Days I can recall this year. Because democracy is on shaky ground. Because fundamental ideas about citizenship and its attendant rights are softening. Because a boorish brute occupies the Oval Office and shows every sign of wanting to trash the place. And because there is no sign yet of the political courage that will be needed to turn things around. This year it’s possible to imagine something happening that changes the whole game, an event that provides the tipping point that will excuse the undoing of all the progress made since the New Deal.

I hope not, and I hope that the small things that millions of us can do will make a difference. As in ’74, I’m hoping today that the system is built to work in spite of the cunning manipulations fashioned to undermine it. I’m hoping that enough of us believe in that to make it real.

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18 comments on “They say it’s our birthday …

  1. Charles Yallowitz
    July 4, 2017

    Wonder if President Tang will tweet about his enemies today. Sad that I expect that more than decorum.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 4, 2017

      Feels like a new paradigm, but I hope it’s a one-off. Hopefully we can get back to normal in 3.5 years. 😉

      Happy Fourth, Charles. Hope you and yours have fun!

      • Charles Yallowitz
        July 4, 2017

        Have a happy 4th too. I’m dreading the next election. It’s going to be messy.

    • pinklightsabre
      July 4, 2017

      I haven’t heard President Tang but that’s stinkin’ funny. It’s funny in a not-funny way.

      • Charles Yallowitz
        July 4, 2017

        Forgot where I first heard it. There’s just so many out there.

  2. John W. Howell
    July 4, 2017

    Happy fourth, Kevin

  3. pinklightsabre
    July 4, 2017

    I like the compactness of this and the caution, the lesson, or call to action. All of the above.

    • Kevin Brennan
      July 4, 2017

      Danke. I just read that alcohol sales are way up since January. Coincidence?

      • pinklightsabre
        July 4, 2017

        Dude, we are hauling out of the stores by hand truck, here. Like the beta read + notes idea too, that’s just perfect. I need some help better focusing the themes down for sure. And really ready and open for a critical voice. Wasn’t before but will be soon 😃

  4. Phillip McCollum
    July 4, 2017

    Hope you had a great Fourth, Kevin. Now I’m just dreading cleaning up the hundred or so popped water balloons plastered all over the backyard.

  5. Woebegone but Hopeful
    July 5, 2017

    Outside looking in.
    These are indeed time that try folks’ souls but I hold to a belief that you folk in America are bigger than any accident of the electoral system.
    Keep on keeping on folks

  6. Ilona Elliott
    July 5, 2017

    So far 2017 feels like the longest year of my last 59. I keep thinking anything this dysfunctional will surely self destruct in time. Hope it’s sooner rather than later.

  7. jilldennison
    July 5, 2017

    Agreed that this was the strangest in my memory. Many did not feel like celebrating at all, did not see much TO celebrate, myself included. But I keep pounding the keys, as do you, so that must mean that we continue to have hope, yes? Good post!

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