A Culture of Independence
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about American culture and what it is, exactly. America is a big place, in case you hadn’t noticed, and regional differences abound. There are places where wearing a cowboy hat stands out like a sore thumb and places where not wearing a cowboy hat stands out like a sore thumb. There are places that think they have the best BBQ and there’s North Carolina. Soda can be soda or pop or Coke.
But we unquestionably have a pan-American culture that transcends regional dress, food, and dialect. Stadiums dot the landscape and fill to the brim with enthusiastic fans of football, baseball, and auto racing everywhere you go. There’s always somewhere to grab a burger and fries with friends. Catch a movie on the silver screen, and the experience will be remarkably consistent across the 50 states (and remarkably different outside of them.)
I noticed another remarkable consistency in our nation’s culture on Tuesday: our Independence Day celebrations.
I’ve spent America’s birthday (perhaps conception day is more accurate, but I digress) all over this country, from sea to shining sea, as they say. No matter where I go, I see the same things. Kids with streamers on their bikes. Parades. Egg tosses. Pie-eating contests. Picnics. Fireworks.
Even in the heart of CalExit, where less than six months ago I was abruptly awakened to the brutality of those among us seeking to destroy our civilization, I found a 4th of July celebration just like every other, with the same traditions, the same music, the same goofy red-white-and-blue attire.
It can be hard for this misanthrope to see what unites us when so many forces are conspiring to augment our differences. No doubt those differences are real and meaningful. No doubt the culture war must be fought to be won.
But a clear view of what you’re fighting for is essential to victory. I saw my vision of our future on Tuesday. I hope you caught a glimpse of it, too.