Today I celebrate a personal anniversary. Last October, a year ago, I started taking a walk around the neighborhood every day after work. For the past 12 months, 5 days a week, rain or shine, I have gotten up out of my office chair, put my iPod in my pocket and my music in my ears, and enjoyed this self-propelled program of exercise and relaxation.
If you remember October 2012, you may remember that here in the USA we were in the final weeks before a Presidential election. Down the block from me there was a house on the busiest through street in our neighborhood which had been flying the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag — an anti-Obama symbol through the mad logic of politics — and I was ready to demonstrate to the neighborhood and whatever small part of the world that passes through it that we pro-Obama people were not intimidated. So I put on my Obama baseball cap and I started walking.
Down the street past the offending banner. Up and down the sidewalk of the through street, joining the dog-walkers, the bicyclists, the do-a-little-yard-workers, the mailbox checkers, the joggers, the kids at play as part of the outdoors world.
I learned that my neighborhood was more pro-Obama than anti. I pass maybe 100 houses on my circuit. Perhaps half a dozen had Romney signs on the lawn in October 2012. About three times that many had Obama signs. There were a lot of Obama bumper stickers in evidence — as there still are on the anniversary of my first walking day.
Last week Angelika and I were vacationing at the beach while the government shutdown farce played out in D.C. and on the national news channels. It’s not clear which the so-called “Tea Party” faction hate more, the fact that we have a black President or the idea that insurance companies will have to let poor people get health care. Today (October 22) was my first day back at work, and I read reports of polls showing that these “Don’t Tread On Me” hatemongers have lost a tremendous amount of public support and a fair amount of political capital by their tactic of putting the world economy in jeopardy in hopes of getting their way.
Today was my first day back at work, so it was my first day to take my walk around the neighborhood again. As I approached the corner, my spirits were lifted to see the “Don’t Tread On Me” flag gone and the American flag flying on its own.
Does this mean that my anti-Obama neighbor is experiencing a change of heart? A moment, at the very least, of shame? I’m not sure I believe it. Maybe it’s just laundry day for the offensive flag. But for the moment, it does add a bit of celebration to my little anniversary.