I do not like living in a country so full of hate. It’s not a new realization. Our country, our government, sent troops and covert operatives to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other countries to kill people on their own soil.
I moved to northern New York on the Canadian border because my draft number was 12, and I was determined to go to Canada rather than Vietnam. I found that I loved this community and have lived here most of the last 49 years.
The internal strife of the 60s and 70s over the Vietnam war took years to heal. Internal strife over environmental regulation has become less polarized but remains. Today’s strife seems different. Among other things, it was created by the media rather than the events being covered. It is also the product of the long game that started in the 80s when Grover Norquist introduced through Reagan, a new approach to reducing the size of government: Don’t worry about cutting programs, but cut taxes and the programs will starve.
Along the way, conservatives took up the mantles of conservative Christianity, abortion, and gun rights, not because they fit the program they were promoting but because they brought in new supporters. I believe that the crowning achievement of the Republican party has been to convince people to vote against their own self-interest.
CNN ushered in the era of the 24-hour news cycle. Before that, we watched four network news shows—NBC, ABC, CBS, and PBS. These were only 30 minutes, and their point-of-view was subtle but similar. Enter Fox News. As one protester’s sign read: “Fox News: Rich people paying rich people to tell the middle class to blame the poor.” And immigrants. And people of color. Muslims.
And so, I sometimes wonder if I should have moved to Canada. Its policies reflect my values. I once met some loutish Canadians, but for the most part, they are a much more civil society. When there was a mass shooting in Toronto a few years ago, the shooter was talked down and arrested, not killed.
I am a selfish person, though; my roots in this community—even in this country—are deep. I don’t regret staying. I would like to think I’ve made a small contribution to making my community and my country a better place, but I know it is minuscule at best. And who is to judge what is a “better” community or country? That is a topic for another essay.