Friday, October 21, 2011

newspaper column about "taking America back"

I'm probably the last person in popular media to point this out, but I enjoyed writing this column comparing the various political movements to "take back" some portion of the country. The ending was a little weak. As always, feel free to complain here or on Twitter.
Time to take our country back, but where did it go?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the upcoming 2012 elections, it’s that we all have to rise up and “take America back.”

No kidding. Whichever side of the aisle is speaking at any given point, the topic will come up: Take America Back. Take America Back. Take America Back.

Google that phrase and your computer will start to smoke like an overheated engine. A great many people want to take America back.

From whom, though? Everybody, it turns out.

The Tea Party, which began its protests almost as soon as the current presidential administration took office in 2008, was centered around the idea of “Taking America Back” from … someone. In an article from the “Tea Party Tribune” website, conservative Lloyd Marcus stated the mission very clearly.

“Bottom line, we tea party patriots MUST take our country back,” Marcus said. “Back from politicians who demonize achievers; back from politicians who promote entitlement to enslave as many voters to government as possible; back from bottom feeding parasites seeking freebies from Obama’s stash; back from those who hate moral standards of any kind; back from those who hate our military; back from those who seek to divide us along racial lines for political gain; back from those who celebrate and sympathize with the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.”

And from Obama himself, obviously.

“And most of all, back from Obama who upon entering the White House toured the world apologizing for America’s greatness and has vowed to “fundamentally transform” her. You sir, are unworthy of our extraordinary legacy. And with God’s help, we will take our country back from YOU come November 2012.”

Strangely, the political and ideological opponents of the Tea Party have exactly the same “Take America Back” mantra. While introducing the president himself at a union rally in Detroit this past September, Teamsters President James Hoffa Jr. (yes, that Hoffa family) said the following:

“We’ve got to keep an eye on the battle that we face, a war on workers. And you see it everywhere. It is the Tea Party. And you know there’s only one way to beat and win that war.

“President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these (expletives) out and give America back to America where we belong.”

The expletive, of course, was what received the most play. But the point is obvious: As bad as the right-wing Tea Party wants to “take America back,” it appears the left-wing movements want to do the same. Protesters from the liberal “Occupy Wall Street” events said as much.

“We are out here to try to take back our country peacefully,” one of them said.

It’s not surprising that so many groups want to “take back” what they perceive as lost. Reclaiming something is an old trope, whether it’s football superiority (“Take back the state!”), your safety (“Take back the night!”) or possibly even control of your own life (“Take your hands off that!”).

To that end, I attempted to start a “Take back the remote control!” protest in my house. Anybody know where I can buy a good couch?

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