As a motorcyclist, I understand the diversity of those who love two-wheeled enthusiasm on the open road.
Oops, let’s not forget those on three-wheels. My wife has a Can Am and I admit enjoy taking it out once in a while.
While I don’t share some of the extreme views that appear to dominate some of the political leanings of those who, like me, prefer riding Harley-Davidson bikes, I recognize the diversity that makes America unique (most of the time).
Still, I clinched my fists and looked the other way when the organizers of Rolling Thunder, the annual gathering of thousands of bikers each Memorial Day weekend in Washington to recognize veterans who remain missing in action, fawned over a publicity-driven appearance by Sarah Palin, the bimbo of politics who almost single-handedly helped John McCain lose the Presidential election in 2008.
Palin, whose determination to cash in, even couldn’t finish her single term as Governor of Alaska, showed up, as I recall, on the back of a trike and acted — badly — like “one of us.”
Photo assignments this year prevented me from attending, and riding in, this year’s Rolling Thunder. In retrospect, I’m glad I stayed in Southwestern Virginia because those with brain drain paraded Donald Trump on stage as “the man for bikers.”
Trump, the flamboyant, conniving and constantly-lying billionaire, will be the nominee for President by a Republican party gone mad. I can say this with some experience as a former political operative who was paid an obscene amount lot of money by the GOP from 1981-87 in Washington.
I did it for the money, nothing more. No grand illusions of “serving the country.” No claims of patriotic virtue. No such thing exists among political parties or their paid operatives. We do it for the money and the trappings of power.
I walked away from politics in the mid 1980s, at the same time I walked into my first meeting of alcoholics anonymous. In a few days, I will celebrate 22 years of sobriety as a recovering alcoholic and 22 years as a recovering paid political operative.
Part of my twin recoveries has also been anger management. My temper brings on a blind rage, thankfully tempered now by age, experience and dedication to matters that do not bring on anger.
Successful anger management includes avoiding situations where one’s temper and outrages can be brought to the surface. I’ve learned to walk away and avoid fights that serve no purpose.
I have supported Rolling Thunder since its inception, rode in the first eight events and several times again in recent years. I hope to ride with fellow bikers in Washington again because I support the goals of Thunder.
But I will not make the annual journey to Washington in future years if the agenda in any of those rides includes pandering to the likes of Sarah Palin or Donald Trump. Celebrating Memorial Day and the service of Veterans should be above the pettiness of politics.
If Thunder becomes just another tool of populist, celebrity-driven, political partisanship, I will choose to ride the open roads alone or with others who put America above partisanship.
My motorcycle helmets display a sticker on the back of each one:
“I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am an American. There is a difference.”
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