We Americans harbor a huge dichotomy in our attitudes toward our country. We display our patriotism in borderline chauvinistic manner, playing the national anthem before every major sporting event, and church services frequently include impassioned praise of our nation and sometimes promote the idea that loyalty to god must include equal loyalty to the country.
We Americans, myself included, love our country. It’s surprising that many of my fellow citizens hate our government. It’s a pejorative to call someone a politician. Candidates for office who have no government experience proudly run as ‘outsiders’ and often easily win a seat. Americans do not recognize popular public programs as government created and sponsored by Washington. I’ve heard more than once the demand, “Keep government out of my Medicare,” which is, of course, a government program. President Ronald Reagan was cheered when he told us, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” Americans perceive correctly that the government does not represent all the people.
The month of June commemorates a turning point in many countries’ LGBTQ+ history. In the U.S., the Stonewall Riots mark this turning point.
The Stonewall Inn is a gay bar located in Greenwich Village. Before the riots, the police routinely raided the Mafia-run gay bars to harass or detain members of the LGBTQ+ community. On the morning of June 28, 1969, a surprise raid took place at the Stonewall Inn. The angry patrons and neighborhood residents, fed up with the constant police harassment and social discrimination, gathered outside the bar and became increasingly agitated about the police aggressively manhandling people. Soon afterward, the onlookers began to throw objects – pennies, bottles, and cobble stones – at the police. The full-blown riot continued for five more days, involving thousands of people clashing with law enforcement on Christopher Street and neighboring roads. The fabulous Marsha P. Johnson, a Black drag queen, is credited for throwing the first stone – although she’s never confirmed it.
Americans do not vote directly for their presidents. We vote for the people who will vote for our presidents. Each state is assigned electors, based partly on population, but each state is assigned an additional two electoral votes, regardless of its size. Consequently, a vote from a person in a rural state has more influence than a vote from an urbanized area. This system has given us five presidents who came in second in the people’s vote with mixed results. Three have made us question this system. With Rutherford Hayes, we got Jim Crow law that denied African Americans their civil rights for more than 100 years. With George W. Bush, we got the Iraq war. With Donald Trump, well, we got – Trump!