Tuesday is Election Day, finally, when we as Americans can vote out the wrong and vote in the right. Show the bums who's boss and let some new folks fix what needs to be fixed once and for all. It's time.
"Wake up, America!"
The phrase is everywhere.
It was on a billboard in Bradenton paid for by people who call themselves patriots. It was part of the name of a political rally in Texas. It was scrawled in graffiti on a mosque in California.
It's the signature line of the radio "redneck rants" of fictional character Earl Pitts that play on a daily podcast on WFLA in Tampa. It's a phrase that has been used by Jerry Falwell, Glenn Beck and Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich.
Google it, and you get people with issues with Islam, people with issues with Obama, people with issues with the "oddities" of the Sept. 11 attacks. You get Atlas Shrugged. You get Miley Cyrus. You get assurance that the end is near.
A marriage is between a man and a woman, and anything that tries to destroy that is opening the door for any number of strange things to happen in the future. I won't go into the strange things, but anyone with any intelligence will be able to figure out what might happen.
Wake up, America.
That's a letter to the editor from Tucson, Ariz.
The Republicans spent our money like drunken sailors, then ran the ship of state aground. And now they want us to trust them at the helm again?
Wake up, America.
That's a letter to the editor from Deming, Wash.
I have no respect for a man who disavows his mother and his white heritage by calling himself black, and you shouldn't either.
Wake up, America!
That's a letter to the editor from Chambersburg, Pa.
They were printed this summer.
• • •
Wake up, America. Let this blatant attempt to siphon your dollars out of your wallet open your eyes to the real motive of our oil companies. It's greed, greed, greed.
That's from a letter to the editor from Creve Coeur, Mo.
Wake up, America! The gay community is mad as hell and we won't take it anymore! We have been nice for more than two decades. We have tried to work with our "straight friends" to win equal rights. That still isn't happening.
That's from a letter to the editor from Seattle.
Wake up, America, demand national health care now.
That's from a letter to the editor from Palm Harbor.
They were printed 20 years ago this summer.
• • •
For decades, people on all sides of the political spectrum have used the phrase "Wake up, America" when talking about insiders, outsiders, banks, taxes, capitalism, excess, the oil spill off the coast of California, the oil spill off the coast of Alaska, the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, obesity, health care, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Europeans, immigrants, aliens, enemies, courage, liberty, apathy, fascism, socialism, communism, terrorism, McCarthyism, marijuana, propaganda, schools, soccer, Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa, role models, Wall Street, casinos, Hummers, water, the media, the national debt, the Pledge of Allegiance, the overzealous use of fireworks on July 4, teenage sex, abortion, God, and spaying and neutering your pets.
• • •
If you want your work to be lost on Amazon.com in a pile of pamphlets, polemics, sermons and books, be sure to include the phrase in its title.
There's Wake Up, America! Manufacturing Methods Which Imperil Our Trade. That's from 1906. There's Wake Up, America! The Overflowing Melting Pot: Why the Americanization of America Must Begin. That's from 1917. There's Wake Up America: A Call to the President, the Congress, Our National Leaders, and the American People to Return to Greatness. That's from 1992. There's Wake up, America! You Are Being Destroyed By the Liberal Left. That's from 2004. There's Wake Up, America! A Nation That Hates Itself Will Not Survive! That's from 2007.
"Probably no nation knows that it is becoming impossible until its hour has struck. The hands of the clock move slowly — and sometimes we do not notice their revolution — but they move, nevertheless, inexorably. America is young, vigorous, growing, courageous, but our very strength may blind us to the seeds of decay within us, and history has more than one example of a nation which thought as well of itself as we do and was yet cut off in the full flower of self-conceit. All our projected reforms, separately valuable though they may be, are not panaceas."
That's from another book called Wake Up, America. The author, William R. Castle Jr., wrote it in 1916.
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Several moments of your consideration/Leading up to the final destination/Oh, the earth is calling out/I wanna learn what it's all about
But everything I read/Global warming, going green/I don't know what all this means/But it seems to be saying
Wake up, America/We're all in this together
Those are lyrics from a song called Wake Up America, by Miley Cyrus, the 17-year-old entertainer born Destiny Hope Cyrus, who wore a purity ring growing up before she titillated audiences at last year's Teen Choice Awards by dancing with a pole.
• • •
"Wake up, America!"
There are two major conceits associated with the use of this phrase.
1. I know what the problem is. I know what the solution is. I have this figured out.
2. The time in which I live is a very important time.
Wrong and wrong.
"In bad times," University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato said, "people are disappointed, angry, frustrated, and on the whole, in a sour and surly mood.
"Is this era," he wondered, "really any different?"
"Wake up, America" is a phrase that has been used so much, by so many, for so long, for so many different reasons it should be considered meaningless by now.
It says nothing. People keep saying it.
Michael Kruse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8751.