Commentary by Bill Buchanan
I am by nature a cynic. I do not consider myself a pessimist. In fact, I think I am pretty upbeat and optimistic most of the time. But I look at most things with a skeptical eye. But even I could not be cynical about the scene at The Village Jester on March 22 as Colin Jones celebrated a happy event with some friends. Earlier in the evening, Colin had gone to the Los Angeles Civic Center to take the oath with almost 4,000 others that allowed them all to become American citizens. Drinks were bought, toasts were made, hands were shaken, and hugs exchanged. It was a touching sight. These days, the news is full of political posturing, pompous speeches, and polarizing comments. In this, an election year, the rhetoric is especially venomous. Add to that a terrible economy that seems endlessly mired, and then throw in a dash of daily news about another nut-case country acquiring nuclear capabilities, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get down on our country and its political leaders. But then, you witness the unadulterated joy of someone who makes a special effort just to be an American citizen, and it stops you dead in your tracks. It makes you ashamed and proud at the same time. You are ashamed that you take what you have and where you live for granted, and proud that you live in such a remarkable country, a country that thousands of immigrants aspire to call home. There is a memorable scene in the very watchable HBO movie “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential race. The scene centers on Sen. John McCain as he plans his concession speech to Barack Obama, who has just won the presidential election. McCain’s campaign manager talks about the concession speech as a sacred ritual that serves to reunite the nation, and has been a part of the American political landscape since the days of Washington and Jefferson. The transfer of power in this country is a thing of beauty. There is no military coup. There is no bloodbath and rioting in the streets. Regardless of how vitriolic the campaign has been, when the votes are counted and the winner declared, the loser makes a simple, eloquent speech congratulating his opponent, then calls upon all Americans to come together and support the new president —- because no matter what our views, we are all Americans. It is the height of civility. That is just one of the wonderful things about our country that reaches out to people like Colin Jones and his 3,900 “friends” and makes them want to become an American. I guess we all need a reminder now and then of how fortunate we are in America, even in hard times. I got mine that Thursday night as we welcomed home a new American.