If you’re reading this, then you probably already had your day off for America Day—the day that America celebrates being America. Not that we like to gloat. This, like all completely arbitrary holidays not tagged onto a natural phenomenon such as a solstice or an equinox, is meaningless, but hey, U.S. for U.S., baby! Right? Go Army beat Navy, cheap beer and all that crap.

For as long as I’ve been adult enough to recognize what’s happening around me, my country has given me few actions other than a couple stellar Neurosis albums to be really proud of in a nationalist sense. I turned 20 a month after Sept. 11, 2001, and shortly thereafter watched the nation I grew up believing to be the greatest on earth proceed to belittle its own and the freedom of others by years of senseless warmongering, torture and unspeakable criminality. I’d learn soon enough it wasn’t the first time. The play continues to this moment, though the locale may have (and probably hasn’t; who can keep up?) changed. Like a lot of people, I’ve made my disillusionment gospel. For the first time since I’ve been of age to do so, I don’t plan to vote in an upcoming presidential election.

So what, I wonder, does someone like me celebrate when we celebrate America Day? Yeah, yeah, I know it’s Independence Day, but every time I type that out I just think of Will Smith circa 1995 punching an alien in the face and saying, “Welcome to Earf,” before lighting a cigar, so you’ll pardon me if I call it something else. Should I mark the 200th anniversary of the War Of 1812? Or maybe I should wait and, later this year, mark 50 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis could’ve wiped our flawed species off the map. There’s a proud moment in American history.

I’ve had a couple people comment to me since last week’s Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare on how glad I must be that it held constitutional muster. Like I was sitting around waiting for the verdict to come in with baited breath. Bullshit. First, I don’t care at all, and even if I did, it wouldn’t be in a direction favoring the policy. Second, gosh I could use a nap.

The most pointed objections I’ve seen to President Obama’s healthcare initiative have read roughly as follows:

“I don’t like government telling me what to do.”

“I don’t like black people telling me what to do.”

“I don’t understand what the problem is, but the tv says it’s bad so it must be bad.”

The threat, whatever it was pretending to be, was fake. Anyone who tells you the “Affordable Care” Act (I guess the “Happy Puppies Rolling Around On Their Backs” Act was taken) is socialist universal healthcare is lying. It’s not that at all. But it should be. Single payer now.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it. You don’t trust the government, fine. So let’s put our lives—literally, our lives—in the care of Corporate America, the same people who’ve been feeding us rat feces in our Cheerios for however long. They’re bound to know something about keeping people alive, right? Let’s do that.

If it’s a choice between incompetence (government) and malevolence (business), then I’m going to go with incompetence every time. At least you can choose to elect or not elect a government. I never voted for Blue Cross Blue Shield. My prescription plan wasn’t a referendum. What a great field to be in where you can just tell people to give you money and then change what they’re paying for out from under them while continuing to charge them the same , if not a larger sum while providing less of the product you’re selling them. But oh yeah, keep your government off my lawn. Fuck that, bring me a tank.

So yes, maybe I have a hard time finding something to celebrate on July 4 that doesn’t render me either a jingoistic drone or a smarmy liberal dick. I’d celebrate the food itself, but it seems inappropriate somehow. Fireworks are fun, but they kind of are the celebration more than they’re the thing to celebrate, though I suppose if I got desperate enough it could be like a fun high-concept meta-holiday: Fireworks Day, on which we honor all of our nation’s varied explosives.

Screw it, I know where this is going. Mark Twain. I’ll drink to Mark Twain. It always comes back to Mark Friggin’ Twain. Whatever.

Happy America Day.

JJ Koczan


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