This morning I awoke to the news that Milltown Mel the Weather Predicting Groundhog died just before Groundhog Day. He's the New Jersey companion to Punxsutawney Phil, who was made famous in the movie Groundhog Day. I have no idea what in the hell this means in our post-apocalyptic world, but it cannot be good.
And speaking of our post-apocalyptic hellscape...
I am one of those people who straddles the fine line between Conservative and Progressive ideals. I truly believe that politicians who profess to adhere to either are liars, because our political system is designed so politicians really only adhere to money, power, and self-interest. Even the best, most honest politicians who are into public service to be public servants have to be a little corrupt just to exist in the system. The trick is them trying to be just corrupt enough to survive while still being a force for good. And those who are able to resist temptation and stay a force for good are far and few between.
Which is why I detest politicians and our political system with the burning passion of a thousand suns.
Which is why I am loathed by both fanatical Democrats and fanatical Republicans.
Because I can't be fanatical about any of this shit. It's all too fucked up for me to like anything about it. I am firmly in the middle of the extremes and honestly don't care if people hate me for not picking a side. I voted for President Biden not because I love the guy... heck, there are many things about him I can't stand... I just voted for him because he wasn't President Trump. Period. So go ahead and scream your "Let's Go Brandon!" chants because it doesn't irritate me in the slightest. He was never my candidate (though I do find it amusing that people are too afraid to just come out and say "Fuck Joe Biden," but you do you).
It has gotten more and more difficult for me to understand the mindset it takes to love a politician so much that you are wanting to build your entire identity around them. They're just people. And while one politician may adhere more closely to what you want out of government, in the end the vast majority of them are just in it for themselves. And they are willing to drag people from the common things we all want in order to build the fanaticism which gets them elected. Each side whips people into a frenzy about denying the other side what they want (even if they want it too!), so it's a never-ending game of extremes where nothing gets done to make our lives better. Just worse.
It's all-or-nothing all the time.
It's more important to see the other side lose than to see the country win.
Take the whole Carhartt fiasco that's currently in play.
Carhartt is a clothing shop which produces some fantastic work gear. I've owned a number of items from them over the years because I love how tough and long-lasting their stuff is... and I love the fact that it was made in America. At least it used to be. Over the years they've sent most of their production off-shore, just like everywhere else, so they can be competitive. But they still make some items domestically and know they have customers who shop with them because of it, so you can display only those few items made in the USA if that's how you want to shop. Ultimately they are a fine American company who stands behind their products while providing American jobs.
That's something we can all get behind, right?
Not so fast. The company is currently being used to score points because Carhartt has mandated vaccinations at their company. If you want to work at Carhartt, you gotta be vaccinated. Naturally some people are losing their fucking minds, burning their Carhartt gear in YouTube videos, and generally lambasting the company from every conceivable angle. All because their political idols have conditioned them to do so.
And, to be honest, I just don't get it.
First of all, there are many, many companies which have mandatory vaccination. Take Ford, for example. They are mandating vaccination for most of their workers. But do you see people lighting their Ford pickup on fire in protest? Of course not. Political parties and their fans realize that nobody is going to torch a $30,000 truck, so they put a $170 jacket in the crosshairs, because they know that's something they can use to build up hate and stoke their fanbase with fewer consequences.
Second of all, do you know how many Americans are suffering right now? There are many who can't afford a good winter jacket. Maybe they have a cheap one that's falling apart. Maybe they can't even afford a cheap one. So if Carhartt offends you so much that you can't bring yourself to put on your jacket... then instead of lighting it on fire, why not donate it? Except you won't hear political hit-squads telling you to donate your jacket instead of burning it. That doesn't build the fanaticism politicians covet. So instead people laugh and share videos of Carhartt gear being lit up because that's what they've been conditioned to want to see. And they do not give a single fuck that there are Americans suffering who could have used that damn jacket.
And once again I find myself in the middle.
One of the things I like best about Conservatism is the ideal that government should stay the fuck out of our lives. There are limits, of course. I don't think companies should be able to kill their customers, destroy the environment, or do anything that makes them a detriment to society... that's where government should be involved to protect the public good... but, outside of that, I don't think the government has any fucking business telling companies how they should operate. That should be up to them. So if Ford and Carhartt want to mandate FDA-approved vaccinations because they feel it will create a safer work environment? More power to them. And conservatives should be applauding these companies for enacting their freedom to run their business however the fuck they want... regardless of whether or not they approve of the vaccines!
If you don't want to wear the uniforms they make you wear at McDonald's, don't work at McDonald's.
And if the uniforms offend you so much that you don't want to eat there, feel free to not eat there.
But buying a pile of McDonald's hamburgers and setting them on fire in protest while there are Americans who are hungry doesn't make you a patriot... it just makes you an asshole.
If you don't want to be vaccinated then by all means don't work at Carhartt. And if you hate the idea of companies telling their employees to get vaccinated so badly that you can't wear a jacket you purchased, then feel free to donate it. And if you are positively enraged that a company would dare mandate vaccines, then go ahead and tell people how you feel. I support all of this. That's what freedom is about. But, for the love of God, don't let politicians manipulate you into using fanaticism to treat this American company as a pawn to manipulate others! Carhartt looked at the data and decided that vaccines are safe, vaccinations saves employee lives, vaccinations keeps employees out of hospitals, and vaccinations keeps their workers working more-so than if their employees were unvaccinated. And so they decided it was in the company's self-interest to mandate an FDA-approved vaccine. And they made this choice all on their own and without government interference. Yay for them.
But do I support mandatory vaccination of US citizens? Not really, no. This is a tricky one because spreading disease is not in the public interest (which is why I do support mandatory vaccination to attend public schools or hold a government job), but I don't think that the government has any fucking business telling an American citizen that they have to get a vaccine or be deported. At least not when it comes to COVID. Not yet, anyway (who knows if it will mutate into a strain which kills motherfuckers on contact and we have no choice).
Ultimately those who oppose vaccination are citizens just like everybody else, and if they want to form their own schools and build their own businesses for the unvaccinated, then this is America and they should have that freedom. Yeah, it sucks that they will be out there spreading COVID unchecked and gestating further mutations that put everybody at risk, but that's the price you pay for living in a free country. Hopefully, eventually, people will stop buying into the misinformation being used to manipulate them. Because I'm sick of this COVID shit. And our health care workers need a break. And because if I have a heart attack I'd like the emergency room to have a bed for me. And because I'm tired of people dying over bullshit they've been conditioned to believe.
But, in the meanwhile, I've prepared myself to see more ultra-conservatives lighting their shit on fire because a company mandates vaccines... and I'm prepared for ultra-progressives to start lighting their shit on fire once companies start saying that they will not hire vaccinated workers. If they haven't already.
Because that's where we're at now.
We're trapped in a game that we're all losing while politicians tell us we're winning.
And for some reason we keep believing them.