July 4th in a small American town is a day for serious flag waving. And hot dogs and parades and beer and political speeches from pretenders to the throne – who kiss babies and make nice… who say everything and promise nothing.
Red, white, and blue are the favored colors. Wear all three and you are a patriot. Flags line Main Street, and weather permitting a fireworks display dazzles over Lake DeWeese. This year, weather was not permitting, and given the extreme fire ban, charcoal grills were banned as well. For whatever reason, the Fourth seemed pretty quiet this year.
Here in the Valley, we had a small parade. It began with a color guard followed by fresh-faced Stampede Rodeo royalty looking smart astride their horses. The Democrats followed. I was one of five Democrats who marched. “Small but mighty” might have applied. Half way down the parade route, two additional Democrats took pity on us and joined our party. It is easier to strut with seven than with five.
The Tea Party Folks marched behind us. They looked to be numerous. I’d say 35, but asking around I’ve heard estimates as low as 15 and as high as 50. For sure, they numbered more than seven. They came prepared with handouts. One handout was a copy of the U.S. Constitution – a sacred document, chiseled in stone, apparently never to be amended. The second handout was titled “Let’s Make Our Country UNITED NATIONS Free: no conspiracy theory, just facts.”
The handout alerted us to Agenda 21 which applies to sustainable development. I quote from the summation: “Sustainable Development seeks: 1.) The step by step abolution (their spelling, not mine) of private property, primarily through the implementation of wildlands projects, smart growth, and building codes. 2.) Education of youth to prepare them for global citizenship. and 3.) Control and ultimate reduction of human population.”
Waiting for the parade to begin, I took a few photos. Needless to say, I was attracted to the man dressed as Uncle Sam. I asked him if I could take his picture, and pointing with his chin, he asked, “Are you with those folks over there ?” (Over there, was with the four remaining Democrats.) I said that I was, and Uncle Sam hesitated. I don’t think that he wanted a Democrat to take his picture. Reluctantly he relented. I took his picture just in time because during the photo, I made some mention that we should be happy that we were living in a Democracy. He took issue with me. “You are wrong. We are not a Democracy; we are a Republic!”
Hum.m.m.m. I clearly needed to check the dictionary. And what better dictionary to check than The American Heritage Dictionary.
- democracy: Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.
- republic: A political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who are entitled to vote for officers and representatives responsible to them.
I’m confused. Please, Someone, tell me the difference.
In need of an up-lifting moment, I luxuriate in Walt Whitman’s preface to “Leaves of Grass” written in 1855.
This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up to the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in very motion and joint of your body.”
There! I feel better!