Sunday, July 31, 2016

No One Gives A Damn What You Think!

For some reason, the one thing that I still haven’t let go of in the wake of my decision to stop “officially” covering the NBA is my Twitter account. I guess it’s because I enjoy being able to talk back to news makers. Maybe it’s because I still feel a little bit obligated to tweet out insider information I still get related to the game I covered for 17 years. Whatever the reason, there is a cost involved with using a medium that anybody with internet access can join.

Of course, with a US Presidential election drawing near, I have been following political news and commenting on same via Twitter and just about every other form of communication. I am an administrator on a Bernie Sanders Facebook group with more than 45K members and have been an avid supporter of his campaign. Now that he’s out, I’m trying my best to convince myself that Hillary Clinton will fight the good fight for the middle class and the progressive values Sanders champions. It was in response to one of my tweets on this subject that some guy responded with this:

“Aren’t you just a sports writer? No one gives a damn what you think!”

It’s not uncommon for some idiot to respond in this way. If I could count the number of times I’ve had a rude, non-thinking response to something I tweeted I’m sure it would be a high number. I either block the person, respond with some equally inelegant remark, or put them down in a manner that is too sophisticated for them to understand. I have two degrees in English and teach college literature . . .I can do that in my sleep. 

Every once in a while, however, one of them sticks with me, and this was one of those.

No matter what I do for a living, my opinion on a political race matters. It matters a great deal, in fact. You see, America is a democracy (at least in name), and in a democracy everyone’s opinion matters. Whether you’re a professional writer, a teacher, a corporate CEO, a garbage collector, a movie producer or the person who bags groceries at the grocery store down the street, YOUR OPINION MATTERS.

Not only does it matter, the very existence of a functioning democracy depends on you informing yourself about the critical issues facing this country, discussing them with as many people as you can find to discuss them with - and that includes on social media - and then voting for the person or issue that best represents your vision of America’s future.

My response to the guy who told me no one cares what I think was to simply fire back the first movie line that came to my mind:

“Congressman Pennybaker, on election day people give a damn about what I tell them to give a damn about. THAT’S why I have a job.”  - Annette Bening, The American President

Then I blocked the guy and moved on.

But an hour or so I found myself thinking about that and, you know, being a writer I sat down to write this.

A better movie line to respond with would have been this one, from the same amazing movie:

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You've gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours." You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms.

Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free. - Michael Douglas/President Andrew Shepherd

Right now our elected leaders mostly do the bidding of the super-rich corporations that find them in their ever more expensive campaigns. Some might go so far as to say what we have in America is not democracy so much as corporate fascism . . .I’ve even said it myself more than a few times. The only way to reclaim out democracy is for the people - ALL THE PEOPLE - to stop  devoting so much attention to entertainment and start paying attention to the real world. That means following politics, applying pressure to our representatives when they don’t do what we want them to do, and showing up at the fucking ballot box.

If you can’t do those basic things, then no, I don’t give a damn what you think.

As Michael Douglas said later in that outstanding speech, America has serious problems and we need serious people to solve them. Donald Trump is not a serious person. He is a reality TV hack and attention whore. His presidential campaign was a publicity stunt, and the fact that he went on to become the Republican nominee for president is a testament to just how far the American people have shoved their heads up their own asses.

My favorite candidate won’t be on the ballot come November. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) fought the good fight, but for reasons we won’t go into here he didn’t get the Democratic nomination. I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton, but she will damn well get my vote. She’s a serious person who is seriously qualified for the job.

No matter what your profession is, you’d better get to the ballot box in November and vote in the best interest of his country, yourself and your family. It’s your responsibility as one who benefits from the way of life our system of government affords you . . .and yes, the only way you have it as good as you have it is because of our system of government.

Whatever you do, don’t let anyone tell you your opinion doesn’t matter. Not only does it matter, it is essential to the future of this country.

I welcome your comments and opinions, even if I don’t agree with them on Twitter - @TheRocketGuy


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