This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … the nation’s progress.
I was overwhelmed with emotion last Tuesday at 11 p.m. when CNN called the election for Barack Obama. Getting emotional over anything not Mario Lemieux-related is not normal for me. I think I dozed off in the middle of 9/11 and recall only a vague sense of “how about them apples” after the 1980 Miracle on Ice game. But something about that moment found its way to one of my hard-to-find soft spots.
Scheduled for back surgery the next day, I nevertheless stayed up late and watched Obama’s stirring acceptance speech. When I woke up the next day, my first thoughts went not toward my impending surgery but instead toward the momentous event of the previous day. It truly did feel like I was living in a new country, a country that repudiated eight years of meanness, smallness and general dufus-ness.
Then I went downstairs, read the newspaper and realized that I still lived in Backwardland, where progress comes in starts and fits instead of rolling in in a well-lubed Ferrari. Sure, we elected our first “negra prez’dint” as the right-leaning South might call it. In mixed company, that is. The fuckers still use the stars and bars, for chrissakes.
While the nation is getting some deserved props for electing a black man, we still do some damn puzzling things that mitigate the feeling of progress brought on by Obama’s election.
Alaskans reelected a convicted felon. Sure, the old coot has played pork-winner to an oil-rich outpost of backwater yahoos who have mystifyingly chosen to live in Alaska, but Ted Stevens’ felony was perpetrated while carrying out his senatorial duties. He still won. I’m sure it was a “fuck you” vote to all them dang liberal legal types who have the audacity to expect elected officials to follow the law, even in that joke of a state. Their senator is convicted of basically accepting bribes in return for political favors, and he still gets the majority vote. These same voters probably called for Bill Clinton’s ass – or drained scrotum – on a platter after he got Oval Office oral from the frumpy, 20-something intern, which is not a felony.
John McCain got over 46 million votes despite having Sarah Palin on the ticket. This means that over 46 million voters weren’t affected by the thought of having a prospective president who doesn’t read newspapers or magazines, claims that keeping an eye on Russia from her front porch translates into national security and would counsel her daughter to have the baby if she got knocked up by a rapist instead of some high school hockey goon. (I gotta give the boy some credit. He was banging the governor’s daughter and shooting his fertile seed right up inside that First Twat. Kid’s got some balls, doesn’t he?)
I can understand why so many people voted for John McCain. He crashed numerous planes while in the Navy and eventually got his ass captured in the Vietnam War. We can all relate to screwing up. He dumped his accident-marred first wife, who waited out his imprisonment and traded her in for a hotter, younger millionaire beer heiress. We love chutzpah. This son and grandson of four-star Navy Admirals moved up the military and political ranks despite dismal military and academic records. Who wouldn’t say yes to nepotism? But goddamn, electing McCain would have put a bimbo hockey mom one blown-out McCain heart valve from fighting two wars and tackling the greatest economic meltdown since the Great Depression. But white trash love old white men.
But the biggest reality check was the way three states voted to ban gay marriage, with no demographics voting against it more than blacks and hispanics, two ethnic groups that have suffered ridiculous discrimination in this country. I guess the mountaintop doesn’t include fags and dykes, at least not of the married variety.
Black people have gotten the shaft in this country since they were first dragged over here on dirty ships, yet they apparently find nothing ironic about voting against letting gay people marry because of what they’ve learned from a black-bound book of fairy tales. (Have you heard the one about the pregnant virgin? It’s a hoot.) I guess part of the fun of getting equal rights is finding a group to keep rights from.
So let’s quell our excitement and stop tearing our national rotator cuff with strenuous self back patting. Obama’s election was a watershed historical moment in U.S. history. I still well up when I think about its meaning and impact. It is no longer a trite lie to call this country the land of unlimited opportunity. Someday a black Muslim could be president. The poorest ghetto kid could be president. A one-legged orphaned atheist could be president. We might even vote a cum-guzzling homo into the most powerful position in the world. We just won’t let him marry.
I guess we’re taking our cues from Martin Luther King, who put it so eloquently so many years ago:
… we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’
(p.s. But not faggots or dykes.)
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.