“And you never did think
That it ever would happen again
(In America, did you)
You never did think
That we’d ever get together again”
— “In America” by The Charlie Daniels Band
The country-rock anthem was written and recorded in a different time in America — 1980, to be exact. Daniels, now an outspoken advocate of conservative politics, sang about a country made of disparate citizens — cowboys and hippies, rebels and yanks — who could still somehow find common ground as Americans when push came to shove.
But that was a long time ago and it is difficult — if not impossible — to imagine this generation’s diametrically opposed factions uniting or even agreeing to meet one another halfway.
It’s more important to score political points and engage in daily posturing in a never-ending battle for party supremacy even in the face of a danger that has taken up residence in all 50 states and has touched virtually every family in some way.
And that, perhaps as much as the threat of COVID-19, ought to frighten us to core.
Push has come to shove in America and the common enemy today isn’t so much the mythical Russians that Daniels sang about or the cartoonish invaders of 1980s films like “Red Dawn” or “Invasion USA” — it’s an invisible virus that has sickened and killed thousands here and brought a surging economy to a halt.
But while many of us are doing what we can to stay safe, protect our families and help neighbors in need, others refuse to fall back from the battles on the political front lines in favor of the greater good that is the fight against the coronavirus.
Even today, a month into the new normal of stay-at-home orders, masks and gloves and an increasing infection rate that has yet to peak, there are still zealots on both sides arguing that the threat is either overblown and part of a plot to tank the economy to ruin President Donald Trump’s re-election chances or that Trump is entirely to blame for a human catastrophe that he and his advisors grossly underestimated.
(It has only been a month? March seemed like a year or more.)
It should be clear to anyone with a little common sense that this is — and never was — a hoax. People are getting sick and some of them are dying. Others don’t have the virus, but their lives and livelihoods are in jeopardy because of the coast-to-coast shutdowns of non-essential businesses.
And yet, we’re still playing the blue vs. red game. We’re still engaged in assigning blame and determining responsibility based on party affiliation. A “reader” called the office two weeks ago to vent about what he called “fake news” and ended the conversation by calling me a “bleeping liberal.”
Only he didn’t say “bleeping.”
And he didn’t end the conversation. I did, while he was still sputtering on the other end of the line. Call me a liberal if that’s what you need to do in order to feel better about yourself, but f-bombing people only puts a spotlight on your limited vocabulary and it’s always going to end the same way — with you talking to a dial tone.
We’ve also had to discipline some people who refused to play nice on our Facebook page. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when they veer off the beaten path into unfounded personal attacks and hate, they’ve crossed the line and those comments — and users — must go.
All of this, as well as the nationwide political sniping, is happening while we’re actively engaged in the most important battle of most of our lifetimes. But instead of recognizing the real enemy and threat to our way of life, we’re at each others’ throats.
When you figure out what that gets the so-called victor, let me know.
ED PUSKAS is Editor of The Star Beacon. Write him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter, @Ed_Puskas.