I took a road trip with my wife and almost two-year old during the last two weeks of October. Eight months into this Corona fiasco and a polarizing election looming, what better time than to see the country. My wife and I have been fortunate enough to have been couped up in the house for the past eight months working from home. I say fortunate because at least we have been able to keep our jobs, both of which are decent positions that offer generous benefits. I know a few of my co-workers seemed dismayed that I was taking two weeks off and embarking on a road trip during this “pandemic”. “How irresponsible”, I could imagine at least a couple of them saying. Covid or no covid, we have to move forward. We can take precautions, but we can never stop. We are curious creatures that need to explore, venture and dream. Anti-racism protests, Trumpism, a precarious virus, it doesn’t matter. There could be a meteor projected to eradicate the human race, life moves foward.
We left our home in California and flew into Vegas, rented a minivan, and drove to Houston, where my in-laws live. I had driven across America a few times before, but once we left Vegas and made it to the open road of Interstate-15 North upon entering Southern Utah, I was reminded again of America’s beauty. We meandered through Utah for few days before crossing the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. We stayed with friends for a couple of days in Colorado Springs before racing across the flateness of Kansas. There is something comforting and very American about the heartland. We stopped for a night in Kansas City, ate the best BBQ of my life and drove straight south to Tulsa. I had low expectations for Tulsa, but I found an old industrial town teaming with energy. Much of the downtown has been revitalized. Despite the pandemic, the bars and restaurants were buzzing with the in-flow of tech employees, investors and enrepreneurals. The next day we made our way to Dallas, where I have never seen so many highways zig zagging through one metropolitan area and then on to Houston. I love Texas, but I don’t know how anyone in their right mind could live in either of its two biggest cities.
There were three things that stood out to me on my trip. First, America is not nearly as divided as it is portrayed to be either in the media or via election outcomes. There is obviously a significant disparity in voting patterns of Red and Blue states and even between urban and rural areas within those same states. People might be surprised to hear that rural California is staunchly Republican and voted heavily for Trump in both 2016 and 2020. But once you get past the sometimes superficial rift conveyed by voting behavior, we aren’t nearly as different as each side insist on portraying the other. The deep red parts of America in 2020 are not awash in White supremacy and bigotry. Many of these places are quite diverse, modernizing and changing rapidly. I ate arguably the best Japanese food I’ve ever had in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Even in the most most liberal urban zones, not everyone has bought into the far-left Progressive agenda. There remains a common ground for all Americans to unite around. Unfortunately, there are interests in the media and among cultural Marxist that skillfully manufacture a certain narrative. While that narrative ostensively speaks of systemic racism and empowering the marginalized, its real intention is to use those same marginalized groups as pawns in a myopic game of politics. The goal is to be keep us distracted, disoriented, fearful and suspicious of each other.
Second, everyone in the country is wearing a mask regardless if it is state mandated or recommended. I’ve been living in the malaise of left-wing culture for the past several years. Listening to progressives speak or just watching the mainstream media, you would think few people in red states are wearing masks. But after traveling through places like Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, I can tell you that virtually everyone is wearing a mask. I almost got the feeling that even in the heart of ‘Trump Country’, people were as every bit as compliant or even more so about using face coverings as they are in the virtue signaling zones of California and Washington DC. As I write this, there are new talks of lockdowns and it’s conceivable that the Biden administration will attempt to mandate some sort of national lockdown and a mandatory mask requirement across all fifty states. But this really makes no sense and while it may curtail the virus slightly, the obvious consequences of such a shortsighted policy will only ensure that the “cure” is more harmful than the disease.
Third, the energy, creativity and innovation that drives society is quickly moving to red states. Many are glued to their phones, obsessing over the Orange Man, the Coronavirus, “peaceful protest” and whatever is deemed to be offensive by the woke brigade. But business, commerce and innovation has found a way to carry on. Much of it and the energy that accompanies commerce is flourishing in places you wouldn’t expect. While we are literally committing cultural suicide in places like Washington DC, Los Angeles, New York, the Bay Area and Chicago, places like Tulsa, Kansas City, Utah, Nashville and South Dakota are moving forward despite the Coronavirus or political strife. Much of this can be attributed to the fact that many liberals have and continue to move out of large cities and seek new opportunities in the heartland. They are investing in places that someone living in San Francisco or New York would have never considered ten years ago. Why? Because ultimately, it’s about living life, creating something new and moving forward. That is the same reason I took a road trip across the US despite the “pandemic”. If you are waiting for the Corona and the Orangeman to disappear before you can begin living life again, then you are going to be waiting a long time.
If you are still trapped the abyss of ‘Trump derangement syndrome’, then you are a fool. Sure, it is understandable if you dislike the man and I certainly don’t blame you for not voting for him, but if you really believe that Trump is a dictator, then you aren’t living in reality. Life is good in the United States. If we spent the same amount of energy appreciating what we have instead of dragging our feet like a two-year-old in a futile attempt to “tear down the system”, the possibilities would be endless. And who says that American democracy is in dire decline. The naysayers are wrong. We are only nearing the halfway point and yet to peak. And what system are you tearing down? The one that allows you to live in such comfort? The system that has provided you with a higher life expectancy and more opportunity than in the history of the world. Speaking of history, have you ever taken the time to read or truly understand the dynamics of human history? If so, maybe you would have a more accurate understanding of your own historical time and place.
Identity politics is a losing proposition. It is not only detrimental to the soul of the nation, but demoralizing to the individual. If you are a person of color, a women or a member of the LBGTQ community in 2020, the only force holding you back is yourself. Now if you want to talk about 1960, then that is a different story. But the reality is that we as a civilization have made substanial progress since that time. There is no widespread systemic racism, sexism, homophobia or xenophobia in 2020 America. Sure, bigots remain and they always will, but they exist as a minute minority. I agree that there is a valid and necessary argument to be made that racial and economic disparities are a glaring issue. But those problems can only be resolved internally within those groups that are falling behind. No amount of government intervention, money spent or White guilt is going to produce a more equitable society. What we desperately need in America is a spiritual path to recovery. Fair enough, we can afford a couple of strong safety nets like universal healthcare and social security, but these should only exist as a buffer against the market. Simultaneously, we should be embracing free enterprise, entrepreneurialship and personal responsibility. The government can provide a helping hand, but the idea that the government alone can be the remedy to the entrenched problems of society is intellectually dishonest.
So watch your step and be careful not to fall into the trap of ‘politricks’. Don’t buy into the fear of Covid-19 or demagoguery from either the political Left or Right. Life is short. There are so many interesting people to encounter, places to see and opportunities to grow. Personally, I voted for Bernie in 2016, but opted for Trump in 2020. I am in no way a Trump fanatic, but I thought his policies overall were actually quite favorable towards the American people. No new wars, we were pulling troops out of the Middle East, we renogiated trade deals like NAFTA, got tough on China and pulled out the ludicrous Iran deal. Trump was also the ultimate rebuttal to cancel culture. But he lost and I accept that because I am fair-minded enough to understand that we live in a great country. If you despised Trump and believe that the tens of millions of those that voted for him simply did so out of hatred and bigotry, then you are in fact lost and treading in the currents of delusion.
The same can be said about Covid-19. It is a virus and it isn’t going away anytime soon and it could linger for years. We can take measures to mitigate it, but are we supposed to just cower to the virus and lockdown again? People are going to die from Covid and that is a sad reality, but the consequences of not moving forward will be much harsher. Virus or no virus, children need to be in school, their parents have to work and we must be allowed to properly socialize again. A vaccine will not be the end all cure that many naively believe it to be. The Democrats have nothing to run on, so they will have no choice but to continue to politicize the virus and the media will be there along the way to peddle their lies. But regardless of politics or the virus, life goes on. We must keep marching foward. The reality is that the smart ones have been going about their business as if covid-19 was never a thing. They’ve continued to build their wealth, innovate, create and contemplate. Meanwhile the sheep have been staying inside, taking precautions and fretting over the Orange Man. So if you don’t want to be like the latter, wake up, get off of social media, stop watching cable news, refrain from wearing your politics on your sleave, stop making excuses and live your life.