It may be early to prepare for the election after this one, but that’s what I’m doing.

You see, I have a wisecrack that’s been in storage for a while now.

Recently I applied for citizenship and so, assuming I’m accepted—sometime in the new year, I’m guessing—here’s how the wisecrack will go.

“Citizenship has its drawback. Every election up until now, I tell people: ‘Don’t blame me, I can’t vote.’ Now I can’t say that anymore.”

OK, not much of a wisecrack. In fact, considering how abrasive this presidential election has been, not much of a laughing matter altogether.

Citizenship will make me an American, confirming the home I already have here. How I vote will paint me as a certain kind of American. The chances are whatever kind I am will almost surely identify me as a pariah, if not an outright enemy, to a sizeable portion of the nation. Whether blue or red, or even green, I’m going to encounter a continual stream of opinion about why my chosen color beckons towards national ruin. To some, I will almost inevitably be tarred a traitor even before I cast a vote.

As many of us recognize, it will be a gargantuan task for the political hierarchy, and for us all, to overcome these divisions. An emphasis on bedrock values is where I would begin. In a country that prizes values, what about a focus on civil debate, empathy, a hearing for the calmly-stated opinions of those with whom we disagree, an effort to put ourselves in others’ shoes? To differ is certainly part of human nature. To differ with grace and consideration stems, I think, from communal behavior and no doubt from habits learned early in life.

My path towards becoming a certain kind of American seems to me to have been too often decided for me. Let’s start with being a Baby Boomer. Who seriously believes that all people born within certain years, all Baby Boomers, or all yet-to-come Generation Zs, are or will be of the same mind? We may have aspects in common, but as many differences. Ask Hillary and Donald.

And then there are the political tags. Liberal or conservative, never the twain shall meet we’re led to assume. Yet, how many of us cross the lines on an almost daily basis. I support less government, but only to the extent that it still addresses the complexity of modern life. Jefferson, Madison and their peers laid out fine principles, but they could hardly be expected to foresee climate change and techno developments. Oh dear, I suppose that’s going to offend constitutionalists. I’ll be labeled as the kind of American who besmirches the legacy of the founding fathers.

Sometimes it’s hard to decide exactly where an issue fits on the political scale. For instance, I advocate conserving trees. Does that mean I am a liberal subscribing to the insidious threat of environmentalism, or am I conservatively supporting the most precious resource of any nation—its geography? Say what you like about history. Without geography, there’s nothing.

Then there’s defense. There’s a divisive topic I am going to be wary of discussing with people I don’t know well. I am in favor of transferring as much as practical of the world’s nuclear weapons budget to programs that actually make sense. In fact, I’d like to tune in to a political debate in which a candidate treats that as a serious priority. Once again, am I a liberal for wanting to liberate ridiculous funding or a conservative for wanting to conserve life, liberty and the pursuit happiness in a world in which those aspirations are often underfinanced?

And so, as I wait for my date with the Department of Homeland Security, I have much to consider in addition to the usual questions about whom senators represent, what the supreme law of the land is etc., etc. One thing I do know though. Once I take that oath, no one will be able to say with any credibility: “Go back to where you came from.”

Even when they don’t like my wisecracks.


The truth is I’m a reluctant “baby boomer”. As that designation proliferated in the media over recent years, I felt blindsided. I was being cemented into a segment of the population which experience had shown to have a tenuous sense of unity. This is a generation, after all, that has produced Clinton and Bush (George W.), Ted Nugent and Morrissey. Any illusion I had that people of a similar age necessarily share values vanished along with the Woodstock spirit.

It’s the same, no doubt, for any generation. Those Xers and Y-ites, not to mention the Zsters on the horizon, will come to ruminate on their divisions. Time may well reveal that youthful exuberance masks serious, perennial ideological differences.

Anyway, so here I am, an enrollee in a boomer group on the book lovers and book creators site, Goodreads. I ask myself: is all this generational labeling just marketing? Or does an age bracket define us better than I’d like to think?

I’m about to find out. Goodreads’ Boomer Lit group invites authors to post samples of their work for something called a blog hop. I’ll try it. Sounds more my style than hip-hop. Maybe those mid-20th century childhoods have forged a common bond after all.

Here’s my contribution (from my novel Shine Like The Sun):

“Light and a beat. The one so piercing it fogged his eyes with iridescence, the other a heart-churning pulse with no discernible point of origin.

He staggered on to the angular wooden deck extending from the house, and skipped over the cracks between the planks in mimicry of a childhood game. It had been so long since he had moved. Really moved, that is. Would anyone care? Was he even capable?

A tremor rumbled through his torso — his own faltering voice, it dawned on him, self-activated by nervous energy. And then, dazzled by shimmering beams from the east and intoxicated by the moment, he could hold back no longer. Glass clapped loudly on wood as the bottle dropped from his hand. Voice synchronized with steps in a self-absorbed fantasia. Yes, he still had it. He could still rock ’n’ roll.”