Archive for category Politics
The media was abuzz today as Augusta National admitted its first two female members in the golf club’s seventy-nine year history. Women everywhere should take notice, but not of the achievement, rather the troubling duration of their exclusion by the private organization. Personally, if I’m not allowed into a place for nearly eight decades the only proper gesture upon my acceptance is a proudly erect middle finger. However high-profile women have been gracing ESPN throughout the day to discuss the greater implications of Augusta’s brave decision. I suspect from their language and inflated praise that they’re all eying future membership.
Augusta National Golf Club is a despicable group of wealthy men. I’m sure they’re mostly lovely people to talk to at a barbecue or a wedding, but as a whole the organization has fought to keep Augusta as pale and virile as possible. Its first black member was not admitted until 1990. No women had been invited until today. And like any prestigious community of one-percenters membership is by invitation only. Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore were today’s invitees, each an appropriate representation of the everyday woman.
So yes, let’s make this an issue about equality. We could look at it through the prism of gender, or race, yet social class seems to be the most appropriate considering the tenor of the times. Golf has always been a sport for those with greater means. A set of quality, adjusted clubs can cost as much as a used car. Initial fees for Membership at Augusta plus the annual due is equivalent to purchasing a brand new Cadillac. I presume there’s a life size portrait of Mitt Romney outside of the clubhouse with a sign that reads, “You must be this rich and important to join.”
We are used to these kinds of divides in this beautiful country of ours. Rich men build expensive golf courses and allow only other rich men to roam their fairways in pursuit of leisure. One might notice they’re all men. I happen to notice they’re all wealthy. Membership at Augusta is one of the rarest tokens of success; a social marker befitting an American king.
If you’re not a CEO or former Secretary of State, then according to the Augusta National Constitution, you’re only 3/5 of a person. Good luck getting a tee time at Pebble Beach, peasant.
Even in America, I’ve never seen a drive-thru line wrap around the building twice. Tonight I went to Chick-fil-A with a couple of friends for a post-basketball calorie intake. Not for any reason in particular. We were just in the mood, so we drove the extra mile to enjoy a couple nuggets and a sandwich, only to find that the fast food joint had suddenly become the epicenter of a culture battle. Apparently gay America is fighting for the right to get married, and God-loving, straight people are fighting to stop this from happening: This is all news to me.
I’ve always been a big fan of Chick-fil-A. You know a good business when you see one, and the growing chain is one of the more admirable practices around. The young adults and managers behind the counter seem happy enough, and the food is well worth the higher price. Sure, I could get more chow at Burger King for a little less money. But I’ve had enough BK employees stand on my lettuce over the years to know that there’s something wrong in the kingdom of grease ball burgers and stale onion rings. Chick-fil-A is the antithesis of these dying brands, and I gladly welcome the changing tides of fast food America.
It’s common knowledge to those areas of the country familiar with Chick-fil-A that the chain has strong ties to the Christian faith, and thus any attentive student of American culture should be able to guess the beliefs of those that have molded the restaurant into a regional icon. I, for one, have never cared what CEO, White-Guy McBaldy thinks about Gay rights. He runs a good company and makes a lot of money, good for him. He can give that money to anyone he pleases, this is an American tradition. And so is snickering at him when you read his self-aggrandizing quotes plastered in your newspaper. His opinions are worth about as much as his chicken sandwiches when you’re finished eating them.
Like most people, the last thing on my mind when enjoying a sandwich is politics. Although I don’t consider gay marriage to be a political issue (civil rights have always transcended such things), I understand that people in this country don’t agree with me. I am also not a gay American; I can only acknowledge the paramount nature of their struggle from a third-party perspective. Perhaps if I was, the chain’s affiliation with anti-gay marriage advocates would bother me more. I’ve always felt strongly about gay equality, but I just don’t want to think about real, tangible, impactful issues when I’m looking to score grub. Partisanship has its limits. After all, we need to be able to agree on something.
The crowd at Chick-fil-A tonight was not as quiet or complacent during dinner as I was. Patrons gladly gloated that they in fact agreed with the CEO’s stance, and that’s precisely why they were there tonight, to support his anti-gay marriage stance and rally against gay America’s misguided approach of vilifying such a respected brand. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the American people, it’s that you never attack their favorite foods. You can hurt their wallet, take away their home, even kill their son in a war, but damn’t you better keep your hands off their artery-destroying cravings. More people ordered a number-four with a sweet tea tonight than attended any protest against government spending, Wall Street, or the wars in the Middle East. This was Real America’s Woodstock.
I felt dirty visiting my nearest Chick-fil-A location tonight. I appreciate the brand, but really? We’re going to flock and throw our money at the place because some idiot with a big checkbook wants to make this battle his own? People showed up in record numbers to stuff their faces in protest, and many seemed downright pleased to oppose the civil rights of their fellow Americans. It seemed to me to be just another one of the many nights that someday in the near future, will live in infamy in the conscience of our beautiful country. I presume there are many places in our nation that don’t care. But in Maryland, at the center of a red county in the middle of a blue state where Chick-fil-A’s are plentiful, I witnessed the front lines of a culture war that still shows no signs of ending, and suddenly this war is being fought in the drive-thru lines of our fast food restaurants—how distinctly American.
I’ve always thought it was merely a coincidence that political affiliations seem to fall along soft drink lines. Democrats just seem more willing to enjoy a Pepsi than their Republican counterparts. I’ve never done the sociological research it would take to assert such a thing was true, so I simply smile when I notice it or laugh it off as a stretch to presume it a reality. It’s just a harmless observation I’ve made over the years that’s fodder for a weak Jerry Seinfeld bit, and I suppose that’s why I’ve never heard it pop up in his act.
My family is mostly Republican, and coincidentally enough, have strong emotional ties to Coca-Cola. Maybe that’s where I got the notion. Let’s just say that the Diet Coke brand has made quite a lot of money off my family tree. I myself subscribe to the “whatever ya got” approach to soda consumption, because at the end of the day I know that they both leave my body the same way. I’d be lying if I said members of my family didn’t take the choice more personal. Every time my mother hears that a restaurant we’re dining at serves Pepsi, she groans out of sheer disappointment. My gram-gram does the same and her reaction is even more visceral. She claims it’s a part of her upbringing, her heritage even. And yes, I still call my grandma “gram-gram.”
Coke has a profound presence in the south, and my grandmother studied at Georgia Tech back in the day. She’d consider ordering Pepsi at an Atlanta Waffle House treasonous. I find her stance more humorous than I take it serious, but sometimes a person says a thing so much that you start to think he or she actually means it.
At a recent family dinner a relative said to me, “This is my first Pepsi since I found out Obama drinks it.” My response was silence, as I’ve mostly grown tired of discussing political matters with the family. It usually leads to somebody getting more upset than the other, and then Christmas ends early with a quiet room filled with high blood pressure and too many helpings of dessert. I suspect he was kidding with his comment, yet apparently he cared enough about Obama’s preference of soft drink to take note of it, and ultimately it’s affected the way he views the brands. Then again there really isn’t much else to go on besides which color you prefer, red or blue.
Personally when I drink a Pepsi, Barack Obama is the last thing on my mind. In fact, I like to think about all those sexy pop stars that the company used in their advertising campaigns at the turn of the century. There was Beyonce and Shakira, and they’d dance around and sing and shake up that bottle till it erupted with epic explosions of sweet, soda pop. I still don’t know what those ads had to do with the product, but I do know why I was supposed to buy a Pepsi. Britney Spears could sell me anything in the summer of 2001.
My brother’s always been a big fan of Christina Aguilera, though. He only drinks a Coke.