In the beginning, there was Tom Jefferson and John Adams. Not exactly the best of buddies during the early years of independence. Andrew Jackson was hardly beloved by all. Abe Lincoln presided over the biggest split our country has ever seen. Woodrow Wilson faced a country divided by America’s involvement in World War I.
Our entry into World War II wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Until Pearl Harbor, many patriots, led by one of the biggest heroes of the day, Charles Lindbergh, didn’t think the U.S. had any business interfering in Europe’s issues. Lyndon Johnson’s years in office were filled with divisions over Civil Rights and the Vietnam War. Today, we’ve got polarization playing out in Us vs. Them mentalities on both sides of the political spectrum, with zealots taking matters into their own hands with tragic results.
In other words, we’ve always had differences. No president other than George Washington ever had the unanimous support of the electors. For the most part (the early 1860s being an obvious exception), we’ve been able to talk about our disagreements. Did people get hurt sometimes? Absolutely. But the underlying rule of law in this country has been a pretty good bedrock on which to build a nation.
Despite our disputes, we’ve mostly been able to rally around something of mutual interest. Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet come to mind. (Did you just sing that commercial jingle in your head as you read that?) Unfortunately, sometimes it has taken a horrific act such as the events of 9/11 to make We the People act in harmony. We’re pretty darn good as a country when we’re on the same side.
Events of the last few years have obviously split us. From a Congressional softball shooting to an attack on a synagogue; and irresponsible reporting/social media commentary to mailed explosives, (not to mention a contentious election, to say the least), we’ve become a less-than-tolerant nation. Friends have trouble talking with each other. Differences in looks and beliefs have hardened many to be wary of “the other guys.”
What we all could really use is a common cause to root for. A world war has done it in the past. But I don’t suggest that as a good route to take now. No, I think perhaps what we really need is a good underdog to get behind. After careful consideration, here’s my choice:
The City of Cleveland, Ohio.
Now, I may get a little pushback from the denizens of that much-maligned burg, but they may reap some benefits that would allay their collective initial wounded civic pride.
Think about it. The “Mistake on the Lake,” as it was labeled in the late 1960s/early 1970s, has had more than its fair share of problems. For those who don’t remember, the Cuyahoga River, which runs through the city, caught fire in 1969. Cleveland was one of the biggest industrial centers in the U.S., and the sewage and waste and litter disposed of in the river literally caused a conflagration, emblazing the river itself.
During a ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1972, Cleveland Major Ralph Perk’s hair caught on fire. (It was not because of a spark from the river.) The city has lost half its population in the last few decades.
The NFL Browns have never been to the Super Bowl. To add insult to injury, the team’s owner up and moved the franchise to Baltimore in 1995. Cleveland got a new team, but with the same results. (They lost every game last season.)
The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. And now even their nickname and mascot come under attack every season by the PC police.
The NBA Cavaliers did win a championship, but mainly because LeBron James played for the team. Now he’s gone to the L.A. Lakers. So, the Cavaliers are once again acting more like the “Cadavers,” a moniker they’ve been saddled with more than once in their existence.
I say let’s rally around Area Code 216. Go visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (yes, it’s there). Stroll through the Museum of Art, Museum of Natural History (it has dinosaurs), the Great Lakes Science Center, West Side Market, and Botanical Gardens. Go aboard the USS Cod Submarine Memorial, take in a show at Playhouse Square, pay your respects to James Garfield (20thU. S. President), John D. Rockefeller, and Elliot Ness at historic Lake View Cemetery, or see the animals in the zoo.
The point is we need something to rally around. Cleveland could use our help. It sure beats ganging up on each other.
©MMXVIII. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer
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