A few years back, when the sting of President Bush's seemingly out-of-nowhere toppling of John Kerry was still fresh, I used to wonder what the atmosphere of Bush's last year in office would be, in terms of the (at that time) incredibly cantankerous relationship between Democrats and Republicans/liberals and conservatives.
In a rare moment of untethered optimism and patriotic hope, I imagined that after 8 years of revilement and bitterness, we'd all find a way to sort of come together and look toward a better future; sort of like the survivors in the last scene of a disaster film. I'd hoped that we'd finally realize that we don't all agree, and we never will, but that it doesn't matter in a country as large and diverse as America. I didn't expect us to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya," but maybe we'd stop with the extreme measures that sadly defined the fighting between the two sides during the Bush era.
Christ, was I wrong...
Two big, "what the hell?" stories popped up last week that made me lose a little more faith in humanity, and made me wonder if we'll ever bridge that ever-widening gap between liberals and conservatives in this country.
The first was a Reuters story about a leaked Bush administration memo that indicated not only that medical providers who refused to offer several widely used contraceptive methods would be protected, but that the use of these birth-control methods were being defined as abortion.
Now, I don't want to harp on this too much, because the whole abortion debate has been held way too many times, and I've been on the liberal side of that debate basically since day 1, so I don't really have to elaborate. What bothers me about this, though, is the beyond-the-limit adherence to archaic, proven-wrong methods of thought that these people have. This goes beyond their idiotic adherence to practices that have been proven not to work; like abstinence-only education, where they assumed you could fight teenage hormones, an element so powerful, it should be researched as an alternative-energy source.
This is a situation where they're trying to vilify birth control itself, by making stupid people think that its actually abortion, instead of something that prevents pregnancy, thus making the practice of abortion (later on down the line) necessary at all. In an incredible twist of logic, they've actually found a way to state that life begins before conception. I've had a hard enough time dealing with people screaming "Life begins at conception!" prior to this. Please don't make me have to deal with something that makes that look like a more intelligent option.
But I digress...
The second story just made me sick. It concerns the sudden appearance of these billboards in parts of Florida:
Hold on, just in case you scrolled by too quickly, here it is again:
Yep, that's right. Don't vote for a Democrat, or else 9/11 will happen all over again. I really, really thought that we'd wised up as a population and gotten past this kind of rhetoric, but good to see it's still thriving in the deep south.
The billboards were put up by a yokel by the name of Mike Meehan. To get a better sense of Mr. Meehan, here's the photo taken from his website, promoting his smash hit, "The Republican Song (Please Don't Vote For A Democrat)":
Now, you can tell Mr. Meehan is a true American, for the followign reasons: 1) His button-down shirt looks like an American flag. He doesn't just love America, he wears that shit, son. 2) He's sporting the Opryland/southern-style sort-of cowboy hat, which matches his rather dashing blazer (both blue and red, also very American), which proves that not only is he down-home country, but he's classy, and meant to be taken seriously. 3) The rest of his ensemble is completed with good ol', non-intentionally-ripped, probably-Wrangler-brand blue jeans. None of that tight pants, khaki, commie shit for this born and bred American. 4) His guitar is featured prominently in his picture, ready to rock out some Toby Keith or Johnny Cash at a moment's notice. Pay special attention to the fact that it's leaning back, kind of saying, "Yeah, man, I'm a serious musician, but I also like to party." And 5) he's leaning against a rusted-as-all-hell model-T Ford truck, my man. Sure, it serves no actual purpose, and has probably been inoperable for at least 40 years or so, but that's the way we do it down here. I guarantee that thing's probably sitting on his front lawn, along with a broken washing machine and a whole mess of also-broken kids toys.
The song is... I mean, I don't really know how to describe it. It doesn't make sense, really. It's just a mash-up of every bad, 40-years-old and counting, redneck argument against Democrats, railing against "taking money from a hard-workin' man and givin' it to people who don't give a damn."
It's the music video, though, that really deserves national acclaim. The opening 10 seconds prominently features a tractor, a NASCAR hat (But is that Jeff Gordon's hat? I thought you all hated that guy for bein' all clean-shaven and well-spoken and shit...), a USA t-shirt, and lovingly gazing at an American flag flapping in the breeze. I mean, wow...
I don't give a shit if you want to keep putting things like this out; I'm sure it'll get all kinds of airtime in Southern country radio stations. But why in the name of christ would you ever consider putting up those billboards? It's American to make an allusion that 9/11 happened because of Democrats? It's American to foster fear-mongering that we've (FINALLY) sort of gotten past over the last year or so? It's American to exploit an attack on our soil that killed thousands of people and left a huge hole in lower Manhattan, an attack that left sons and daughters without parents, and inspired more fear and anger than anything else in the history of our society?
I just wish, if only for a day, that I could hop inside this hayseed's head and be there for the thought process that went into making this billboard a reality:
Creative Portion of Redneck's Mind: Alright, we need somethin' to grab people's attention to promote this song. Like a kick-ass TV commercial, or a really bad-ass ad played over the speakers at a monster truck rally or somethin'. We need, like, a biiiiig sign to proclaim our message to the masses. What do people see all the time that we can put our website on?
Self-Reflective Portion of Redneck's Mind: How about the cloud of shame that shrouds the ugly reflection you see in the mirror every day?
Creative Portion of Redneck's Mind: Quiet, you! I'll get back to suppressin' you with whiskey in a minute. Now, message... message... I got it! We'll make a billboard! Tall as the sky itself! It'll be awesome! We'll have that there website address up, and put somethin' really smart and funny on it, too, like... 'Don't Vote for a Demeecrat', yeah, that's awesome! But we'll make sure to get on their good sides, so we'll say 'Please', too. It's gotta be somethin' more, though, people won't like it if it's just a buncha words. It'll be like a book if it's just a buncha words! And I ain't promotin' that pussy hippie shit! So we gotta have somethin' else, too, like a picture or somethin'. Somethin' that makes 'em think reeeeally hard about what I'm sayin'. Let's see, what could I put up there to make 'em even MORE scared to vote for the Demeecrats?
Hateful, Racist Portion of Redneck's Mind: How 'bout one of them Black and Mexican interracial gay couples them Demeecrats like so much? All huggin' and kissin' and lovin' on each other... eww, man, that's gross!
Creative Portion of Redneck's Mind: I like the way you're thinkin' there, Tex, but it's gotta be even worse than that.
Hateful, Racist Portion of Redneck's Mind: Even worse than THAT?
Creative Portion of Redneck's Mind: You betcha, buddy. We gotta go big or go home, man. ... I GOT IT! We're gonna put up a picture of them twin towers that those Iraqi motherfuckers crashed planes into on 9/11! Hoo-boy, that'll get 'em to the website! They'll see them buildin's burnin', and they'll be reminded of how it was all the Demeecrats' fault, and how that Demeecrat president just sat and let it all happen. Man, we're gonna be rich! I'm gonna buy me a pontoon boat!
Self-Reflective Portion of Redneck's Mind: You don't think that maybe this is a bad idea? That invoking 9/11 to cheaply promote your little Internet song might rub a lot of people the wrong way?
Creative Portion of Redneck's Mind: No way, man, it's gonna be awesome!
I'm sure this stupid fuck doesn't care much for such high-falootin' concepts as karma, but this shit's going to come back around on this idiot. I hope to god it comes sooner rather than later. When it does, I'll be ready with my gee-tar, my rusty model-T, and my American flag shirt to make my own song: "Don't Be a Stupid Fucking Redneck." Grammys, here I come...