I was asked last weekend if I was going to write my obligatory “I hate Valentine’s Day” column this week. Naturally, that got the rusty wheels turning in my head.
For starters, I was a little put out by the notion that I’m that predictable in my subject matter. I mean, yes, I am. However, the idea that people can predict what I am going to feel and write simply because I happen to opine on the same issues each and every year leads me to ...
But I digress.
Now, as for Valentine’s Day, I do hate it. I hate that we have been tricked into falling in line with a holiday created and perpretrated by greeting card companies and chocolate manufacturers. I hate the stress that’s attached to trying to create the “perfect moment” for your loved one, and I despise how lonely it can make a single person feel, even for one day.
It is an exlusionary holiday, by its nature — and it decides who can or cannot participate solely by who happens to find themselves with someone special when Feb. 14 rolls around each year. Yes, I know that religious holidays exclude by who follows which God, but those were created by spiritual and historical occurrences or celebrations — not by making dividend checks bigger for company investors.
And, yeah, I’m done attacking Valentine’s Day, for now.
The other event rolling around this weekend is Presidents Day. This was basically created to form one specific day to honor some of our more significant leaders throughout our brief history, as opposed to holding national holidays to praise some over others on their respective birthdays. It is a time to remember those who have left their stamps on the American way of life, a day for federal employees to take off work and a chance for car dealerships to offer wacky prices that will blow you away!
It also got me thinking a little, which I know sends shivers up the arms of a few of you out there.
I wondered to myself if we now live in a time when we could ever agree on any U.S. president to honor. Could the nation pull together to recognize the achievements of Barack Obama? Would we be united as one to glorify the achievements of George W. Bush? Could Democrats and Republicans work together to show a collective mindset of appreciation and respect for anybody right now?
Look, I know that Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and John F. Kennedy all had their detractors during their times in office, as well. I mean, two of those men were assassinated, and the other had to live with the social stigma of having wooden teeth his whole life. So, yeah, it wasn’t all champagne and roses for those gentlemen, either.
But the vitriol these days between those who govern our major political parties, and the voters who blindly subscribe 100 percent to the doctrines of said parties, ensures that no credit be given to one side or the other, lest there be anarchy. Can you imagine us building a monument to the younger Bush president or Obama? The “other side” would vandalize it within hours, and make us look even more silly to the outside world than we already often do.
Do you remember what those who hated President Richard Nixon would often say about him? “Nixon was very good at foreign affairs, but he was terrible regarding domestic issues,” was the refrain.
A back-handed compliment, for sure. But it was also a sign that people paid attention to big-picture issues more back then, and didn’t have Twitter, Facebook and radio and television shills telling them what to think every moment of every day. People had to depend more on legitimate news sources for their information back then, and unbiased reporting allowed the public to see the good and bad qualities of our leaders.
Is that my rant against social media? Not at all. I enjoy those things as much as the next guy. That being said, it is my rant against the blurry line that has formed between opinion and news. Now, more than ever, our information comes to many of us through the filters of biased commentators. Listen to Rush Limbaugh or Bill Maher start a subject. It’s never a simple reading of facts, followed by a frank discussion. It’s a comedic monologue, peppered with insults, conjecture and often half-truths. No man alive, especially no man alive who is in national politics, can perform any job these days without being marginalized by someone with an agenda to push.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the list of presidents we honor in this country will not be growing anytime soon. Enjoy this Presidents Day, and take time to thank all of those who have led for putting themselves in the proverbial crosshairs.
And, yes, I do hate Valentine’s Day. So, there!