Is America great again yet? It's only been two months but is it safe to ask this question? I've been reading a lot about the rise of Nationalism in Europe since November, it's no coincidence. Many say it started with Brexit vote last Summer. The latest is an article from The New York Times, How a Sleepy German Suburb Explains Europe's Rising Far-Right Movements. This resonated with me because it kind of reminded me of where I live now, not my town specifically but in the mid-Hudson Valley.
Growing up in New York City and then moving to a suburb is quite a change and has broaden my perspective. The Hudson Valley has a history of artsy, liberal-minded "River Towns" with lots of older hippies who want to protect the Hudson River, the environment, shutting down Indian Point, and are down to protest just about anything related to the environment. I get it. But there's another history not talked about much that involves the KKK....but they're gone now, I think?? I had no idea until I moved to Dutchess County that there was a thing going on in Putnam County up until the 80s with the KKK, whoa.
So, come 2016 and I was surprised at how many Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs I would see. Where the hell am I?? I had a discussion with a friend who moved out of NYC a few years ago and is now living some place that is less liberal-minded, not a total shift, but it gives you perspective, a broader perspective. When people think of "New York", they think of this:
This is just a very, very small (although heavily populated) snippet of New York state. New York has 62 counties, NYC is only 5 of them. New York is also suburbs, picturesque small towns, mountains, rural farmlands, blue-collar towns, college towns, and straight up "Country." It is so easy to live in a big city and think that since you are exposed to so much diversity, this is something that the rest of the country will welcome and is okay with. Nope. There is so much to New York that is not "Blue." Our State Senate isn't even Blue, it may be on paper, but there is a thing called the Independent Democratic Conference kind of throwing a monkey wrench in things. There are a few New Yorkers who want to set this country back 50 years and they're not even old enough to remember how it was the first time!
To bring this back around, I started writing this with the idea of Nationalism in this country. 45 was really pushing that message that we need to make America a country to be proud of again. This is happening in other countries but it's being depicted as a bad thing. It's being seen as anti-Muslim, anti-foreigners. Are Europeans talking about the rise of Nationalism in the United States and saying the same? You are less likely to see USA pride in NYC. You'll see Puerto Rican pride, Italian pride, Irish pride, Ethiopian pride, you get my drift. You'll see more American flags displayed outside of houses the more outside the city you go.
This country is not perfect, it's got a lot of messed up history it may not want to acknowledge and it still has problems with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and a bunch of isms and phobias. This country also has a serious problem keeping religion and state separate (someone forgot to tell them about that.) I would still rather live here than anywhere else. I can write this blog, criticize the President, and not have to worry about someone knocking on my door (yet..maybe.). I can go out by myself where other countries require a man to be with you, I can drive a car by myself, I can wear whatever I want. I'm fortunate to live here but I'm still aware enough to know that there are others, who live in the same country, that may not feel as comfortable, and that sucks. I'm not proud of that. The last administration tried very hard to get us all past that and I'd hate to see all of that get erased. I don't have a problem with national pride as long as it includes everyone who chooses to live there, even if they came from somewhere else.