Doodad Kind of Town


I Love a Parade
June 30, 2007, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A neighboring suburb held its Fourth of July parade this morning. A little early for that you say? Well, yes, but that’s the kind of confusion that results when the Fourth falls smack in the middle of a work week. My friend, who lives along the parade route, throws an annual potluck brunch party on the morning of the parade. We load our red-white-and-blue plates with egg casserole, fruit, bagels and Krispy Kremes, fill our patriotic cups with mimosas or coffee-and-Baileys and settle into lawn chairs in front of her house to watch the passing show.

This morning was splendid, neither too hot nor too humid. As we munched our breakfasts, an amazing panoply of people marched by. War veterans. Baton twirlers. Bagpipe players. Little boys performing karate moves. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, proudly wearing vests full of merit badges. Young gymnasts in spangly red-white-and-blue costumes turning cartwheels and walking on their hands. Paunchy middle-aged Shriners driving tiny electric cars. Members of PFLAG dressed in pirate costumes and carrying signs with slogans like “Show us your booty!”. Church musicians belting out contemporary Christian anthems. Smiling, hand-shaking politicians. Amateur actors handing out flyers for their upcoming production of “Les Miserables.”

When else do you ever see these wildly disparate groups assembled in one place for a common purpose? (Namely to walk, wave, and pelt people with candy. Oh, and, at least nominally, to celebrate American freedom and independence. But the candy-pelting is key.) There is something about a Fourth of July parade that restores my faith in America. And that faith is sorely in need of restoration these days.

It doesn’t take much to stoke the fires of my liberal outrage lately. About all I have to do is pick up a newspaper or log on to Salon.com. All week, I’ve been reading about the Washington Post’s series on Dick Cheney – who apparently runs the country without the nuisance of having to be accountable to anyone for anything. What branch of the government does he work for? Executive? Legislative? Amazingly, no one seems to know – and if we don’t know, then how can we enforce the branch-specific limits of his authority as specified in the constitution? Why aren’t more people scared about this? Here’s a clue: because there’s nothing about this on any major news channel, and most Americans get their news from TV. It certainly wasn’t covered on CNN – they were too busy getting ready for their groundbreaking interview with Paris Hilton.

(Shameful confession: – I actually did watch some of Ms. Hilton’s big interview; however, I fell asleep after about 10 minutes. I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss anything that would change the course of modern history. Recapping the interview the next morning, another CNN reporter said to Larry King “She’s not a very robust personality, is she?” That’s a masterpiece of understatement!)

And nothing gets me going like a good, rabble-rousing Michael Moore documentary, so I headed out with friends to catch the opening night of “Sicko” on Friday. I didn’t come away outraged, however, so much as saddened. The state of health care in this country is truly deplorable, with lawmakers apparently working for insurance and pharmaceutical companies rather than the good of their constituents. All the more shameful when you compare our health care to that available in other countries – such as Britain, France, and Canada, all of whom Moore visits while debunking common misconceptions about the evils of socialized medicine along the way. He’s a master propagandist – entertaining, but occasionally painting his agitprop picture in questionably broad strokes or leaving out inconvenient facts that might complicate his argument. (Cuba is portrayed as a benign, misunderstood – almost saintly – nation, at least with regard to its health care system. I have no doubt that the health care workers there are every bit as nice and competent as they’re portrayed. but let’s not go all dewy-eyed and stupid about this; Castro’s Cuba has a pretty long history of human rights abuses. See the movie “Before Night Falls,” for just one example.) But, maddening as he can sometimes be, I always end up celebrating Michael Moore’s work. I love his audacity and firmly believe that the underlying motivation is a deep love of American and its people. I really do. The fact he is still out there, raking the muck and rousing the rabble, is yet another reason that I still have faith in America. (And I’ll bet he loves a Fourth of July parade as much as I do.)

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