The 4th of July Felt Different This Year

Raise your hand if Independence Day felt a little different to you this year. At our house it mostly felt the same as usual, but not totally. The activities were definitely the usual — we did 3 main things: we watched fireworks on the field after the Oakland A’s game, we watched a community parade (where Betty, Oscar and Olive helped hand out programs), and we had a very casual get together for burgers at our house. 

What felt different this year:

– It was the first time our oldest, Ralph, was gone for the 4th of July. All the holidays and traditions feel strange without him.

– My teens, Maude and Olive, were conflicted about feeling pride for our country. They’ve never felt like that before.

– The A’s baseball game and fireworks show was unusually crowded. In fact, the announcer said it was the biggest crowd at the stadium since 2005. Happily, the fireworks (with a background of patriotic music and John Souza marches) were as amazing as usual. To me, they are worth the traffic and the crowds.

– The small-town parade we watched ended with an entry titled “Trillionaires for Trump” in the printed program. As the parade was winding down and the end was approaching, we were trying to guess if “Trillionaires for Trump” was going to be pro-Trump or anti-Trump or something else entirely.

As it passed by, it was clear to me that it was outright mocking Trump. There was a stretch limo, with people dressed black-tie, walking around the limo with signs that said things like:  “You see crime, We see opportunity” and “Drain the Swamp? Nah.” and “Mar-a-Lagoon” and “Widen the Income Gap.” The limo was circled by Secret Service men — they wore suits and lizard tails.

Following behind the limo was a life-size Russian Nesting Doll. As it moved along, someone would lift the first doll head off, and then the second doll head off, and inside, was someone dressed as Trump with a signature Trump wig. 

And then the realization of the crowd that there are no Trillionaires. So “Trillionaires for Trump” means no one for Trump.

Afterwards, some of us were discussing the finale. Had we ever seen anything like it at a 4th of July parade before? No. Not at all. And were we surprised that it happened in this particular community? Actually, yes. We were watching the parade in Piedmont. Piedmont is a very wealthy enclave that is surrounded by the city of Oakland. It’s like a little island-city of wealthy white people. I know California is pretty blue, but if there is anywhere in the San Francisco-Oakland Area that would be pro-Trump, I would assume it would be Piedmont. And here they were, openly mocking him as the parade route went along a street where the houses sell for $4.5 million dollars.

In other ways, I wasn’t surprised at all. Preceding the “Trillionaires for Trump” was a group focused on science-based climate change policy. And earlier in the parade, the Women’s League of Voters carried very progressive political signs.

Today, I’m still thinking about it; still quite fascinated by the whole thing. 

– We were out of the country last year for the 4th of July, and I had forgotten about the epic fireworks scene in Oakland. For four hours straight last night, we could hear ongoing fireworks across the city. It’s so loud, and so consistent, it’s hard to believe unless you’re here. (Poor Oakland pets!)

– One more thing: I was off of social media for pretty much the entire Independence Day, but when I woke up this morning, I saw this story about NPR tweeting out the Declaration of Independence, and how some citizens, not understanding what it was they were tweeting, interpreted it as an attack on the President.

I can’t imagine anything like that happening before this year.

How about you? How were you feeling yesterday? Did you take a moment to bask in some patriotism? Maybe you pondered on your favorite things about being American? Or did you feel overwhelmed by how divided the country is right now? And how violence seems to be simmering at the surface so consistently at the moment? Any commentary from your kids this year? Do any of you feel outright shame about being American these days? Did the holiday feel the same or different to you?

P.S. — R. Eric Thomas’ column for Elle always makes me laugh.

82 thoughts on “The 4th of July Felt Different This Year”

  1. I approached this 4th of July with a bit of hesitancy, but found I could celebrate it thoroughly, despite so many things going on in our country that I find distressing. I would tell your girls that while our country certainly has problems, the idea of America, and the ideals upon which it was founded, are always worth celebrating. We can acknowledge the imperfectness of the ways we have lived out those ideals since the founding up to now, but they are still wonderful, and there are so many people striving to live up to them. And that, for me, is worth celebrating.

    1. Yes. I saw this comment on Facebook months ago and copied it down because I think it’s so true:

      “Any honest assessment of American history demands that we hold complicated truths together. Our entire history is a set of contradictions.”

  2. Yes to all the conflicted feelings. My kids are small, so we wore patriotic colors and made a dessert with fruit that represented the flag (it was mostly conceptual, ha) but we skipped the parades. I read the children’s book We Came to America to them and also Barack Obama’s book Of Thee I Sing and I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack and wondered out loud to my husband if we were witnessing the dark side of the democratic experiment. Feeling concerned and working on being hopeful and doing what I can here and now to make this country great for everyone in the next generation.

  3. As with every July 4th, our household gets very excited to celebrate. Political views aside as an interracial couple, veterans, and parents we are always proud to be Americans. Our children have had the opportunity to live overseas and in many parts of the U.S. and we talk a great deal about never taking our liberties for granted. My teenage daughter is fond of saying…”Only in America do you have the freedom to be a fool! So be the best fool you can be and don’t forget to tweet about it! “

  4. I am Canadian and this year we celebrated 150 years but it was bitter sweet because we have a long history of shamefully treatment of First Nations people. Many were calling it 150 years of colonization. I was struggling right up until the day of July 1st. I decided I love my country, all of it and that means the good parts and the not so good parts and I get to choose to make it a better place and work better at understanding the treaties my people made with other people and do my part to better reconcile our difference. Having had 10 years of a prime minister I was disappointed in so I can relate to the mix pride but we are all so much more than one leader and when one scale (national) isn’t working out so well we have the good fortune of looking local :)

    1. My Facebook feed was filled with posts about the 150 year celebration. It seemed like the entire population of Canada was feeling as conflicted as you.

  5. NPR also reads the test of the Constitution on air each year- something I was unaware of when I turned the radio on somewhere in the middle of the reading – for the first 2-3 minutes, I thought they were listing all of the things trump has done since he was elected!

    1. Did you see that they tweeted the entire Declaration of Independence and a lot of Trump supporters got upset because they thought it was propaganda and that NPR was advocated revolution against a “tyrant” (i.e. Trump). It was hilarious.

  6. This makes me sad. I’m not pro-Trump and didn’t vote for him, but I think there should be some respect for the office of the president regardless of who it is. Ending a patriotic parade with a group mocking the president seems to be in poor taste. We were traveling on the 4th, and I was so pleased to see several people in the airports wearing patriotic colors. While this country isn’t perfect and there’s much work to be done, we still have much to be grateful for. I think the 4th of July of all days would be a day to put political differences aside and focus on the positives instead of what we want to change. Many people (including a close friend) have sacrificed their lives so we can enjoy the freedom that we have, and that’s what we should focus on.

      1. I agree with Susan. I feel like I have more respect for the office than he does. Though, I think he makes a fool out of himself enough on his own.

      2. I feel like this is two wrongs don’t make a right. So because Trump is disrespectful it makes others feel it justifies them being disrespectful too. Seems to me like a vicious cycle.

        1. I think the big difference is in the power differential. The President of the United States, considered to be the most powerful man in the world, attacking or mocking a citizen, is very different than a citizen attacking or mocking the President. Trying to compare the two as equal events seems insincere.

          1. Yes, definitely disagree with you that they are both wrong. Publicly calling out government leaders is essentially the entire Declaration of Independence. I think holding our leaders accountable — which could include using a parade entry to emphasize criticisms — is an important part of being a good citizen.

            Have you ever seen this meme? It made me laugh.George Washington on Facebook

    1. I agree. This is sad to me. I love patriotic holidays because I feel like the country comes together to celebrate the values of freedom and liberty we can all agree on. I live in a particularly patriotic area that goes all out for the 4th of July, and I love how it strengthens the community to be all on the same side for a day. Focusing on partisan politics when celebrating the founding of the country seems out of place to me. I love when I see the patriotic holidays filled with celebrations of the freedoms that allow dissent and protest rather than filled with the dissent and protest, if that makes sense.

    2. I agree with you, Laura. I am also not pro Trump…but I AM pro America. One of the most wonderful things about this country is freedom of speech. However, with that freedom comes great responsibility. Being a bully on twitter or in a mean spirited parade does nothing to show any respect for our right to speak freely. Despite the many poor examples we have seen it is not only possible but our duty to articulate our feelings in a constructive positive way. And that, in my opinion, is a mandate for EVERYONE in this great country.

      1. I don’t know that I totally agree with you, Jane. On two points specifically: 1) Who was being bullied in the parade? Trillionaires? (They don’t exist.) And 2) I think telling people they need to articulate their feelings in a “constructive positive way” is ultimately a harmful thing to demand. It reminds me of this essay on telling people to calm down:

        Jenny mentions below that “protest is patriotic”. Do you feel differently?

        1. “outright mocking Trump” . your words. bullying is bullying is bullying and adds to the divisive tone that has permeated our country.

          1. It sounds like we have different definitions of bullying. I don’t think it’s possible to bully the most powerful man in the world. If you’re in the position of power, can you really be bullied?

            And as for mocking him, in the Trillionaires for Trump entry, ultimately it seems like the mocking can be broken down into valid criticism. No one implied or inferred any violence toward him. The mocking consisted of referencing his ties to Russia,, referencing his instinct to personally make money off his position, and referencing his tendency to favor the rich and make things harder for the poor.

            Did the parade entry harm him? I don’t think so. If he has really done the things referenced in the float, then he has harmed himself.

  7. Protest is patriotic! I feel just as proud as always to be an American (even though I cannot wait for the current president to be impeached. What’s taking so long?!?) and appreciate freedom of religion and freedom of the press more than ever.

    We’re your neighbors in Alameda, ca and also have a great small town 4th of July parade. Although nothing as politically dramatic as you describe in Piedmont my favorite part of the parade was the amazing diversity. There were a big band of “Sikhs on bikes” wearing their turbans, American flags, and on very impressive motorcycles. Also a couple of different Mexican American groups riding dancing horses. The diverse floats got lots of applause.

    I feel like Piedmont is a weird place of super wealthy white people smack dab in the middle of Oakland. I wonder if some of those liberal white families feel
    guilty for isolating themselves and their children? We know many families that choose Piedmont for their “great schools ” (meaning test scores) but I don’t get it. Maybe I would feel differently if I could afford to live there?

    We were also at the A’s game; I came very near to a full on anxiety attack on the super crowded BART bridge with our two kids after the amazing fireworks show. But the crowd was friendly (lots of kids even so late) and BART staff was well organized in keeping everyone safe. I ended up feeling a tremendous amount of civic pride on how well the incredibly diverse, big crowd calmly got home in the heart of Oakland which can get such a bad rap.

    1. “I feel like Piedmont is a weird place of super wealthy white people smack dab in the middle of Oakland.”

      Jenny Also: I can understand people feeling this way. And maybe there is some truth to it. But I live in Piedmont, and from my experience a lot of families here are former Oakland/Berkeley families who want to send their kids to “good” (obviously that’s very subjective) neighborhood public schools in the Oakland/Berkeley area. So rather than do the intradistrict transfer thing for a “better” public school, or send their kids to private schools, or take a shot at getting into a “good” Oakland charter school, or move to Contra Costa county (all of which are common paths for Oakland families with school-aged children), they scrimped and saved and bought a much smaller house than they would otherwise, in Piedmont. (Note that nearly half of all Piedmont households have school-aged children.) Not all that weird, really.

  8. Stephanie Dunn

    Gabrielle, thank you for sharing this post. I felt distinctly different this 4th of July. I kept trying to muster the traditional sense of pride that Independence Day invokes, but soon concluded that while I am grateful to be an American, at this particular time in history, I am not proud. The word “America” has, in recent months for me, taken on baser connotations that contradict the previous spirit and soul of the idea that is America. A good word gone sour in my mouth. I hope Myself and others who might relate will have reasons to feel differently next year.

    1. Grateful but not proud. That is exactly how I’ve been feeling, too. Thank you for putting it into words.

  9. When George W Bush was President, many protests had similar “Billionaires for Bush” groups. Same idea. I always found it to be funny, but perhaps that reveals my politics. :-)

    1. Hah! I have no memory of that. I think during the Bush years I was mostly spending the 4th in Utah, and I’m guessing Billionaires for Bush floats weren’t too popular in that solidly red state.

        1. So interesting. Sounds like it’s a long-standing tradition.

          I ended up interpreting the Trillionaires for Trump as something that tied all the Piedmont Residents together — both democrats and (true) republicans united in agreement that Trump is no good. But maybe it’s more of a tradition than a statement.

  10. This one was different for me as well. I couldn’t get in the spirit, and I really tried! I haven’t liked some previous presidents before, and they’ve all done some potentially embarrassing things, but NOTHING like this.

    We have a reality show tv star with zero experience tweeting against whoever annoys him (including free press) in the wee hours of the morning. I can’t help but categorize his voters as either wealthy or ignorant, so I really just had nothing to say on Independence Day this year.

    Related to the NPR article though, I would LOVE to hear what the founding fathers would have to say right about now (not just Trump, but all of it).

    1. I’m neither “wealthy” nor” ignorant” and I voted for DT as he was a better choice than HRC. And I still feel that way. But, shame on you for “categorizing” people with whom you don’t agree. It was a lovely July 4 !

      1. Please explain how a man with zero foreign policy/military/political experience and who admitted to grabbing women by the genitals is a better choice.

        Part of the reason that Trump was elected is because too many people were concerned about offending his supporters and the civility of democratic process. People have to wake up and speak up. I refuse to make excuses for Trump supporters. Period.

        1. Okay, I’ll explain. HRC’s past speaks for itself. (It’s very shady, at best). For starters, I recall (since you referenced women’s genitals) HRC’s attempts to destroy a 22 yo intern’s life all the while knowing that her husband was indeed guilty of taking advantage of a subordinate- in the oval office, on the job, as POTUS. Certainly no champion of women that I know. Nope, we don’t need for you to make excuses. People woke up and spoke up last November and apparently offended those who never saw it coming. It was a beautiful thing.

          1. Jill, when I read comments about HRC’s “shady past” or about how she’s a “criminal” it always sounds so paranoid to me. Hillary’s past is not perfect, no one claims that it is, but mistake-wise it’s not any more unusual than any presidential candidate’s past.

            Are you prepared to say that Romney’s past is “shady at best”? Or Obama’s past? Or Dole’s? Or Dukakis’? Or Bush Sr’s? Or Jr’s? Or Kerry’s? Or Carter’s? or Reagan’s?

            If you wouldn’t object to their pasts, then I think it’s quite ridiculous (and paranoid) to define HRC’s history as being somehow especially “shady”. She’s not the great satan or criminal master-mind that people make her out to be.

            HRC was a legitimate, well-prepared candidate with a long-standing history of public service. Trump was not. Trying to compare them as equals in any way is nonsense.

            As for your reference to Monica Lewinsky, Hillary is allowed to be a human being. If the husband that she loved told her he didn’t have a sexual relationship with Ms. Lewinsky, do you really fault her for believing him? That’s such a sexist example to bring up. If you are honest with yourself, there’s really no way she could have responded to that situation that you would approve of.

            No one “woke up and spoke up” last November. Trump lied to you with a story of hate and fear, and you gladly believed him. True conservatives were highly disappointed that Trump won the nomination, and true conservatives continue to remain in the #nevertrump camp.

          2. Quite obvious where the “paranoia” lies. If Hillary Clinton were so legit, last year’s election was her’s to win. She did not. No, I do not fault her for wanting to believe her husband- wouldn’t we all? It is her history of attempting to destroy lives of other women (and that darn “right wing conspiracy) along the way in an abuse of power that is so transparent. As for the other POTUS candidates you mention, while it’s true that no human being is perfect, none of them ran against HRC last November. I would again choose DT over HRC. This time, the electorate decided against a long time politician. And it’s okay! It isn’t ridiculous, non sense, or sexist. (your words).

          3. Jill, let’s hear your concern for Trump University, his bragging about grabbing women’s private parts, his screwing over small business people by not paying them what was promised, his numerous lawsuits, and the 12 plus women who have accused him of assault. Unless you’re willing to be just as concerned about his issues as you are with Hillary’s, it reads as false equivalency and faux concern. Come on, now. Let’s hear it.

          4. Jill, you mentioned that you’re not ignorant, but your comments here certainly imply that you are ignorant about Donald Trump. You seem to be in denial about who Trump is, and instead of defending him, you keep referencing paranoid conspiracy theories about people who aren’t Donald Trump.

            Assuming you think of yourself as a conservative (though perhaps you identify as more of an extreme right-wing tea party supporter?), I encourage you to seek trusted conservative news sources like the Wall Street Journal. (I could also recommend some excellent conservative Twitter accounts, though I know you mentioned Twitter is not your thing).

            Conservative news sources are part of my daily reads, and it seems clear that many (or most?) thinking conservatives have either abandoned Trump or have remained in the #nevertrump camp from the beginning.

            Patriots from both sides of the aisle, coming together to oppose Donald Trump, could end up being the best way to unite our fractured country.

      2. I agree that it’s a shame to categorize people. I would like to hear an intelligent reason someone voted for Trump, but based on the responses in this thread, I’ll keep waiting. :)

        1. Jill, has Trump not tried to destroy the lives of women (and probably men), too? Also, I wouldn’t think this needs mentioning, but more people did vote for Hillary than Trump, and two electors in my very red state defected and didn’t cast their electoral votes for him.

          I understand people wanting to get the bureaucrats out of DC and put in a normal person, but Trump is not a normal person. Whether or not he is actually a successful business man is debatable, and – based on his words, not the media – he seems to be an old man that throws temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. That doesn’t seem like a strong leader to me.

          I do think he’s a great entertainer. I loved the Apprentice and his over the top personality was fun to watch. However, just because he says he’s the best at everything does not actually make it so, and I’m waiting to see if he’s actually good at anything other than tweeting.

          1. Hi Summer! I listed a few reasons why I support Donald Trump vs. Hillary somewhere here. Whether or not someone is viewed “normal” is always subjective. For example, at times the behavior of the former POTUS was considered narcissistic/arrogant and maybe that comes with such a powerful job but doesn’t mean that it wasn’t/isn’t on display for both of them. Neither were the flaws/shortcomings of both candidates last November. It’s always a matter of perspective. Always. HRC lost because of that. Many people see her just as sinister, less than truthful, and arrogant as some see Trump. So, if she did this/ but he did that decides the outcome of an election, she still lost. And that doesn’t make his supporters “deplorable”…. bet she would love to take that one back. We could tit for tat all day on blunders. Of course we all know that both candidates are imperfect, we all are. One of them won, handily and unexpectedly for the most part. No, it doesn’t matter that she got more votes, thanks to the electoral college, designed that way by the framers. It doesn’t seem fair when your guy/girl loses, but it’s the best way. They were pretty smart! I happen to think he is good at so much more than tweeting… (not my thing, but some love that he does this). He has been in office about 6 months and has done many things he said he would do, you just won’t hear too much about those things and we all know why. That is just a fact. I won’t change any minds and I’m not attempting to do so, just freely expressing my thoughts minus categorizing or insulting anyone who may not agree. Is this a great country, or what?

          2. Jill, this comment was so bizarre. I’m thinking of these lines in particular:

            “Whether or not someone is viewed “normal” is always subjective.”
            “It’s always a matter of perspective. Always.”
            “You just won’t hear too much about those things and we all know why. That is just a fact.”

            Anyway, your comment is so bizarre, and so weirdly self-righteous, that I went into the comment archive to see what else you’ve said over the years. Turns out this is the first post you’ve ever commented on here at Design Mom. That information, plus your series of comments getting more and more strange, leads me to believe you are a troll.

            In which case, we have all spent way too much time responding to you, and further, you are not welcome here. Isn’t it great that we live in a country where I don’t have to let paranoid trolls spout nonsense on my blog?

  11. This year at the Redwood City July 4th celebration, the county sheriff and a battalion of sheriffs were in the parade. I say battalion because they were dressed up in camo fatigues and carrying big rifles, and backed by a tank-like military vehicle. You could only tell they were from the sheriff’s office from a little patch on the uniforms. They looked more ready-to-shoot than any of the actual military groups in the parade. It was unsettling, to say the least!

    Camo! In an urban area! What exactly are they camouflaging themselves against? I wanted to shout, “You fake-commando cops all look ridiculous!” (Though the look is the *least* creepy aspect of the whole thing… I honestly felt like I’d watched a posse of brownshirts walk by, as if it were normal.)

  12. I went to a Church event sunday in which someone from England stood up and shared his story on why he is grateful for America. The sacrifices his parents made so they could come here. He says his home country is amazing, but America is truly a remarkable place, he gained citizenship and despite the current climate that we should NEVER take for grated the freedoms we have here. I was so moved that regardless of my feelings of our current president…I too felt lucky to be alive, live in this free country and grateful for the sacrifices of so many to make it so. We should all be so patriotic and proud – we live in an amazing time, and in a great country. Also there isnt too many places ive been that celebrate the 4th in such awesome display. The 4th was fantastic here in Utah.

    1. That’s beautiful Amber. Utah really goes all out on celebrating the 4th of July. I don’t know if you live in Utah Country, but I was really discouraged that the Freedom Festival didn’t allow the Encircle House to participate in the parade. That’s a big black spot on a long-standing Utah institution.

  13. Same here in San Ramon. With all of the dancing around politics that my friends have been doing to avoid offending people (strangely, I have a couple of friends that still defend Trump) it seemed to be a low energy kind of day. After running a 5K, I hung out with the dog and met up with friends for a concert in the park. Same activities as before, but no one had the same joy as in years past.

  14. Thank you for another thoughtful post, Gabrielle! As a family, we have always been somewhat ambivalent about the 4th because we are very upfront with our children about the many shameful episodes in our country’s history. This year, we traveled extensively around the world and felt so much embarrassment about the choices our country made and the person chosen to lead us. We opted to spend the day in the woods, talking about ways we can contribute to making our country a place we can be proud of.

  15. I have considered permanently leaving the US for over two years, mostly due to the complete lack of gun control, poor healthcare, the Trump presidency, the militarization of police, and general lack of civility. I personally don’t see much to celebrate. There are so many people who are fighting for what this country used to be, but I’m not sure I can stomach much more.

  16. I’ve spent so much of this year outside of the USA (for work) that it felt really important to me to be in-country for the Independence Day holiday this year. I ended up having a stopover in Philadelphia from July 3-5, and its been absolutely the highlight of my year so far. My day was spent immersed in American history with the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and birthday cupcakes with Betsy Ross (I know, right?!).
    I was reminded again how inspired and inspiring the founding of our nation was. Real people exhibiting courage, conviction, and personal sacrifice: blazing a new trail and simply trying to do their best for their neighbors, their nation and their future descendants. I’m grateful for the reminder that we’re still part of that “bold experiment” more than 200 years later — in my book, that’s well worth celebrating!

  17. Pamela Balabuszko-Reay

    I marched in our parade to support a school board candidate. I didn’t feel like doing anything fun or cute with flags or decorations. I just want to show up in my community and help change things one step at a time. This year feels very different.

  18. I was very conflicted about celebrating the 4th this year. I have always been proud to be from the United States. I’ve lived abroad and, while lovely, we have so much more here. More opportunities, more cultures represented, more people. But I can’t ignore that my experience as a (white, middle class) American is not what everyone experiences.

    I was also solemn watching the fireworks, which I usually love. I was holding my sleepy toddler, covering his ears so it wasn’t too loud and all I could imagine was being a mom in Syria or somewhere else experiencing war, and trying to protect and comfort my children.

    1. I hear you on the fireworks. During the display after the A’s game, I was in blissful heaven, but during the 4 hours of non-stop fireworks the next day, I had a brief thought: It sounds like a war zone out there.

      And then I immediately regretted the thought since I have no idea what an actual war zone sounds like, and that lack of knowledge is a great privilege.

      1. As I watched the fireworks, I kept thinking of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and my utter lack of confidence that Trump can successfully navigate international crises for us these next 4 (or 8 ) years. And having lived briefly as a civilian in a war zone, I really can’t enjoy booms and explosions like I did before that experience.

  19. I honestly feel physically ill reading the description of the parade. I cannot fathom for the life of me the thought processes that go into the conclusion that this level of behavior is even remotely acceptable. I don’t care what anyone thinks of whoever is inhabiting the white house at any given moment. The 4th of July is not about that. Cant believe I’m about to quote Bono here, but America is about an idea. My son is 8, and its my job to teach him about the idea. About civics. About the constitution. As he’s getting older I’ve introduced some of the complexities because thats vital too, but I’m pretty sure If I spent my time teaching my son that people I don’t agree with are sub human mongrels that need to be put down I’d be failing in life – and make no mistake – thats the lesson being taught. What on earth ever happened to leading by example? I know for a fact Highland Ave was lined with tons of kids. Is it a great idea to start kids out thinking that this level of discord is ok? Seen video lately from Evergreen college? And I know the response will be but look how the president acts! Really? So one justifies the other? If we aren’t what we accuse him of being, doesn’t that need to be represented in our behavior? Secret service men wearing lizard tails? You see crime, we see opportunity? Thats heady talk there for a town thats installed more video cameras at EVERY entry point to their little Elysium. Hmmmm. Where I live in San Ramon I went to the concert in the park. All different kinds of people dancing their pants off to an Earth, Wind and Fire tribute band. Citizens who served in the military called up to the bandstand to honor their service, families being together and awesome music. I have no doubt it we wanted to take the path of finding out ways we’re divided we could have done that, but I guess we’ve just got better things to do.

    1. Your response is passionate, but your last line gives a really self-righteous tone to the whole thing: “I have no doubt it we wanted to take the path of finding out ways we’re divided we could have done that, but I guess we’ve just got better things to do.”


      Despite differing opinions about the last parade entry, be assured it was a lovely community-focused parade, with the fire department, the police force, the local veterans group, the school board, and dozens of other groups represented — many with political leanings on one side or the other.

      Yes, there were tons of kids in attendance, including my own, and they had a great time. They loved the vintage cars, and the candy, and they picked out their red, white and blue clothes to wear with care.

      You ask, “Is it a great idea to start kids out thinking that this level of discord is ok?” Well, I was there, and perhaps you can take comfort when I tell you there was no discord.

      1. i think you feel that way though because you were in a place where everyone thinks the way you do, or at least that’s what’s assumed. People who could potentially disagree aren’t even factored into the equation. Imagine if you were in the south with your family and a float came down the street directed at Obama with the same spiteful level. How would you feel? I know many would bristle about my interchanging those two presidents but again, it’s not about the actual men, it’s about your neighbor who might think differently than you do. Can there be a conversation when they watch people cheer a float like that? Or is that something no one is interested in? The whole thing makes me incredibly sad.

        1. But that’s what I was trying to point out when I said if there is anywhere in the San Francisco-Oakland area that would be supportive of Trump, it seems like it would be Piedmont. I WAS in a place where not everyone thinks the way I do about political policy. I watched the parade from the lawn of a long-standing true conservative. I have no doubt there are many, many people in Piedmont who typically vote Republican.

          Yet, the community seemed to be united around a dislike for Donald Trump, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. I think that’s very interesting.

          If there was a Donald Trump fan watching, perhaps the conversation that can be had after seeing people cheer a float like that is: Hey. I love my community. And it turns out all of these people I respect and trust seem to really dislike Donald Trump. Perhaps I should join them.

  20. Yes, I did feel conflicted this 4th. Around the inauguration, it was actually painful for me to see our flag. However, this 4th meant more to me than any other one in my 40 years. While I am horrified at what we have become, at the same time, I have never felt more ownership of my country. There’s so much work to be done, and literally millions of us are doing it. I view our country as something to protect and improve, and I’ve never, ever felt more invested than I do now.

    1. Oh, Meggles. Bingo. That faux concern you seem to have with the current POTUS? Is that the same as dismissing or maybe justifying the scandal-ridden Clinton family? How ’bout that Foundation? Only now the money isn’t rolling in…. False equivalency? Unless you are willing to be as concerned about her issues…… You make my point. You see, I too, view our country as something to protect and improve and so do others who could not support HRC last November. Just not with the same perspective as you, perhaps. We, too, are invested. Come on, now!

      1. You’re dodging. I get that Hillary wasn’t acceptable to you, as she wasn’t for many independents as well as Dems. The question is, why was Trump acceptable to you? Let’s hear all the glorious reasons as well as your equivocating on his numerous problems. Please, have at it.

        1. More jobs. (unemployment down) Lower tax rates. (good for the non wealthy) Border security. (40% less illegals crossing) Less regulations on businesses (small businesses, in particular)- they employee a lot of people, you know. Already rolled back some of the more strangulating regulations of the prior administration. Better trade laws. (good for US). Signed legislation to be able to fire those who let veterans die from waiting for treatment (yay)! AND to give them better options. Just to name a few. All good things in the perspective of so many. Reasons you may not agree with (that’s the problem), but valid reasons he is POTUS. There you go!

          1. Thank you, I do appreciate those reasons. But those are classic GOP stances (I know; I used to be a staunch Republican), that people might disagree with, but they wouldn’t feel ashamed on the 4th with a President who represents those policies. But the fact remains that we have a President who opened his campaign with racist comments about Mexicans, bragged about assaulting women, mocked a handicapped reporter, incited violence at his campaigns, cast doubt on the stances of the intelligence community, called POW’s “losers”, and said we should expand libel laws because he didn’t like negative press coverage. Oh, and called for a ban on immigrants because of their religion, and allied himself with white supremacists (Bannon). Thanks to the help of the Russians, and to the quirks of our Electoral College (which, ironically, was supposed to protect us from demagogues like him), he won. That’s the tragedy. If someone like Rubio or Jeb had won, there’d be vehement disagreement on policy issues, but I wouldn’t feel ashamed on the 4th. We elected a toddler demagogue who doesn’t stand for all Americans. (Just trying to help you understand the “faux” outrage. It’s not faux. I promise you, it’s 100% real). Last comment, I wish you well.

          2. Let’s see how positive you still feel about Trump after it’s unequivocally proven that he colludes with Russia (or is that just the lame-stream media looking for a story?) or when his arrogant, ignorant, impulsive behavior leads us straight into war. “Less illegals”? Where is your humanity?

          3. I’m sorry you were so miserable on Independence Day. Such a shame. Quirks of the electoral college….. too bad you find that offensive, also. The real tragedy is that you can’t accept someone else’s perspective. “Thank you, I do appreciate those reasons, BUT….. Have a great day, fellow American!

          4. Dear Jill
            I’m wondering where you heard that there are lower tax rates? My understanding is that tax reform has yet to be addressed in Congress (which is responsible for passing the laws that change the tax code). So I would be grateful if you could point me in the direction of where I can find out more about the new tax rates?

            I also believe that President Trump signed an executive order regarding veterans but it is not legislation, which again, I believe is something that Congress would be responsible. Since I have some experience regarding veteran’s health care, I googled the executive order regarding veterans and it’s actually a directive to establish office of accountability and whistleblower protection. But the office is to follow the current laws regarding employment laws, meaning hiring and firing and those laws would would have to be amended by Congress.

            The executive order regarding access to better options which you referred to extended the program which was established in 2014 under the Obama administration in response to the scandal regarding wait times for care. The program was set to expire in August so the EO that President Trump signed extends the program.

            I find it helpful to read the reasons why people support one politician versus another and it’s been interesting to read your comments. My concern is that most of us are only hearing soundbites of what is transpiring as we’re all so busy it takes time to really dive in and read across the spectrum of information available. I tend to focus on reading news from a range of sources to help inform me regarding causes and politicians I’d like to support. I’m finding that there are some very good options from both conservative and liberal media sources and I’m spending more time trying to keep up with everything these days!

            I am hopeful you’ll share the info about where to read about these new tax rates as I missed that!

          5. Jill, you’re making a lot of assumptions there. I’m not offended by the EC; I think it’s an anachronism that failed in its purpose to protect us from a demagogue, which it was originally devised for. I get your perspective (I know many Republicans, and pointed out that I used to be one). I was trying to explain the perspective/distress on those who are critical of Trump, and don’t feel represented by a man who has made such mysoginistic and racist comments. One potential assumption you could make that I would agree with, though: my self-control is crap today and I should have stopped engaging when I said I would. I’ve made progress, though–I haven’t gotten into a web debate in several months. Guess I’m having a weak moment today!

  21. julia g blair

    I appreciate everyone’s feelings about USA, July, 2017. I was very interested in a C-Span discussion by Historians. Among other things, they assured their audience that things in the USA have been much worse, and we have survived!

    When Lincoln was inaugurated as President, Five Southern States left the
    Union. Can you imagine what that must have meant for the children of those Southern Families??? And what actually happened!

    But we have survived. God Bless America, Land that I LOVE!

  22. I wasn’t feeling very patriotic this 4th and I didn’t even put any flags out. Since Trump has been elected I’ve only flown our earth flag out every day. It’s my silent protest I guess. I didn’t share my feelings with anyone until I read your post.

  23. Very poignant post. I really couldn’t get into it at all and pretended it was like any other day really and didn’t address it in my mind. Reading this I realize it was the really about the lack of integrity I sensed regarding the day, the divisiveness of the country, the hatred and rancor. The fact that the way ahead isn’t clear and values I assumed were core of the country really don’t seem to be. The swamp is re-stocked with billionaires who don’t give a care for ordinary people. What the founding fathers have created is being dismantled and destroyed. Not much to celebrate.

  24. This is such an interesting post because my 4th felt different as well but for an entirely different reason. Instead of serving a mission for his church (we are also LDS), my 19 year old son in serving in the Army Infantry in Afghanistan. I watched people in their patriotic shirts and wondered how many had given thought not just to the men and women who HAD served, but the men and women who ARE serving. I feel like the most patriotic thing you can do is take a moment and spend the money you would have spent on Old Navy shirts and make a donation to a reputable military charity. Our commander in chief may be a disappointment to some of our citizens but we should be proud of the willingness of a very small percentage (less than .5% of our population is active duty military) to form a completely volunteer military. Making it possible for the rest of us to watch fireworks, parades … and protest.

  25. I felt the same as your daughters this year. I’ve never had the feeling of not necessarily being proud to be from this country but currently I’m struggling with that feeling. It’s been hard to comprehend and made this Fourth of July a bit non-celebratory for me. I’ve had a hard time expressing this so I’m so glad you felt comfortable enough to talk about it on here, creating a safe space for the rest of us.
    Also, I live in southern California and I’ve never heard anything like the fireworks around here. It was nonstop for 3 hours! My poor dog had to hide.

  26. Thank you for this post Design Mom! I often feel alone about this but it appears I’m in very good company. That helps me a lot.

  27. That’s disappointing that people take the holiday and make it a time to push their political agenda or mock others. This 4th felt just the same to me as any. I didn’t see any crazy stuff happening, so that helped. My family had our traditional breakfast together, we chilled with family all day, we had a bbq and fireworks with friends and it was all wonderful. I reflected on what the day is celebrating, the freedom and independence that was won long ago and this beautiful land that I enjoy every day. I didnt care who is president (I mean I do care, I was not pro trump, but on the holiday I did not even think about him), I didn’t care what stupid things we as a nation have done and are doing. I avoid nationalism, but I am patriotic and so grateful for my country and the life it has given to so many people past and present, despite the mistakes we’ve made and the things that we do that I think are not so good.

  28. Just want to say that I really appreciate how clearly and honestly and sharply you (Gabrielle) replied to posts here. Agree with all that you wrote, and as someone who has been in numerous situations with Trump supporters where I could not find the words to respond, I respect your direct and factual style. Also, I recognize that it would be more convenient for you to avoid politics altogether for the sake of viewership and smooth over disagreements among commenters with some nicety. But your approach is what we need more of.

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