When my brother and I were kids, we used to lift weights in the backyard. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a bench press and a few dumbbells. At the time, we lived in Madera, CA, which was hotter than the devil’s asshole. It was so hot that one day, I forgot to bring my radio back inside. When I finally remembered it later that night, the sun had literally melted the face. It reminded me of one of those Salvador Dali paintings with the melting clocks. My brother and I waited until sundown to do our weightlifting in the cool evening.
One day, my father called out to us, “Hey! Your mom needs help bringing in the groceries.” Neither of us were exactly jumping away from the Nintendo 64 to run to the car. Considering that it would be us both who would eat the majority of the food, my dad must have been a little pissed off to see us dragging our feet while grumbling about it. That’s when he looked at us and said, “You expect me to believe that you can lift all those weights but can’t pick up some grocery bags?” My father has a gift of calling bullshit with precise style.
Fast forward about 15 years. I’m watching the second presidential debate with my wife in our small Okinawan apartment. Obama and Romney are slugging it out, each trying to convince America the other guy is a complete asshole. I’m skeptical of what both politicians expect us to believe, but I tend to lean Democrat. The debate ends with Obama being the projected winner. Afterwards, I reflect on what a powerful nation we are militarily and the global influence that is derived from that might. I also get thinking about how downright shitty it is to be living back home. Isn’t that a weird contrast? Power house military, poverty house country. What the hell is that? That’s when the story of my dad popped in my head.
“You expect me to believe that you can lift all those weights but can’t pick up some grocery bags?”
That’s what I’m saying to the U.S. government. Both parties. You expect me to believe we can maintain almost a 1,000 military bases worldwide in 130 nations but you can’t take care of 50 states? Let me make myself clear that I’m criticizing the U.S. government and not our servicemen and women, who are slammed hard by these inadequacies. I’m sure Obama and Romney would have some sly response filled with nationalistic rhetoric that sounds like the right thing to say. But like my dad, who watched his two weightlifting sons bitch and moan about lifting a few grocery bag out of car, I call bullshit on every excuse they give. I’ve seen what our government is capable of doing, fixing America is not out of their reach by a long shot.
I suggest we begin a new campaign for the armed forces. We’ll send them into the worst ghettos in America and have them destroy all the shit-hole houses and embarrassingly old schools, then build a ton of new ones. Why stop there when there’s so much work to be done? We could prop bases that feed all the homeless people on the street, especially the countless who are veterans, and give them a hand to regain their shattered lives. This new military could take volunteers from all the Americans who have found a rejuvenated sense of patriotism. The government could even weigh in with the first real bailout in history, by restoring all those foreclosed homes lost by unchecked corporate greed. Unlike the last bailouts, which were more accurately an act of pillaging, let’s hold those we help responsible with a fair deal of, “we’ll help you if you help us.” That way we all become stronger.
You can look at my vision and laugh. Say it’s unrealistic. My question to you is, why? We’re the most powerful nation on the planet, why can’t we make this happen? And if it’s not a question of capability, but of political foot dragging, then maybe we should stir up some motivation. And if it has to do with downright corruption, then those individuals are traitors. Run them down like stray dogs and bring them to justice. What I am proposing is a return to our interests, the interests of ordinary Americans. You get what I’m saying?