If I am being honest, I have not felt very patriotic since the fall of 2016. After the election and the aftermath that followed, I quit reading the news. It made me too anxious, and almost made me get a ticket. Here’s that story.
Apparently in the winter of 2017 there was a new law that required NC drivers to move into the left lane if a police officer had a vehicle pulled over. On the way to the Women’s March in Raleigh, I passed a police vehicle on the side of the road with a car in front of it. I moved towards the left lane but straddled the middle line as I passed them. Another police car took off after me. It was a trap. As I was trying to process what I had done wrong, the officer explained the new rule of merging into the left lane. He said it was all over the recent news. My response – “I don’t read the news, it is too depressing.” He actually chuckled, said he agreed with me, and let me off with a warning. I still question this rule, though. What if you cannot merge into the left lane because of other cars? Apparently you are supposed to “slow down” but the exact speed of slowing down has not been defined. I have also seen many almost accidents from people trying to merge dangerously into the left lane.
But the new traffic laws are the least of the issues we have been dealt with during this administration. The new tax laws took away deductions that were very relevant in our household and lots of others. And, don’t get me started on his appointment of education secretary Betsy DeVos. Oh, and the migrant detention centers. Ok, I need to stop. This is exactly why I stopped reading the news in 2017.
So what do I do about my unpatriotic feelings? Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to live in a country where I am free to voice my true thoughts. But I cannot shake the embarrassment I feel for being a part of a country that is so opposite of my beliefs and ideals. This feels so much bigger than Republican vs Democrat.
My dad used to say that he sent me to that “liberal college town” which changed my political beliefs, but when he and my mom were moving out of our childhood home, I found a letter I had written in 4th grade to President Reagan asking him to come to dinner with me to talk about how he could create more jobs for people (he did not take me up on my offer in case you were wondering). I also found an autobiography by Geraldine Ferraro, which makes me think those crazy liberal ideas were already growing in my brain. It just took living in a less conservative town for them to take root and grow.
So, it is not Republican vs Democrat. The things happening in my country now are just wrong on many, many levels. How can I celebrate a country that embarrasses me with what we currently represent? Do others feel this way? How do you cope? By not reading like me? The wrongness feels too big to change.