Caitlin Babel of Castro Valley had to think long and hard about the Fourth of July this year.
She said she looked forward to honoring the service of her brother, who is in the Navy, and her cousin, a police officer. But the recent Supreme Court decision to abolish the constitutional right to abortion has left her disappointed. It was a tough choice given what is happening in the country, but she said she would celebrate.
“I was definitely a little torn,” said 14-year-old Babel, a 4-H club member who was caring for his two pigs at the Alameda County Fair. “But at the end of the day, I just want to celebrate the people who are good.”
Babel certainly wasn’t the only Bay Area resident counting on this year’s Fourth of July to mark: a holiday celebrating America’s birth—one that comes as the nation increasingly divides. .
America’s divisions are on display for all to see at the moment: recent Supreme Court rulings on abortion, gun rights and environmental regulation have drawn heavy criticism. A January 6 select committee hearing has exposed a former president’s plans to hold the presidency through undemocratic means – and that support still looms large as he prepares to seek the White House again.
pandemic in the United States, and millions of people died. mass shooting. Hate crimes against Asian Americans, Black people, LGBTQ+ people and others. Gas prices are rising. Supply chain issues keeping shelves empty. There is a war in Europe. And wildfire season is set to begin seriously any day.
There is a sense of defeat, defeat and despair among some of the progressive majority in the Gulf region about the country’s direction. Some are not even celebrating.
Oakland’s Jordan Sales said she was shaken by the Rowe versus Wade reversal, which she sees as a roll back of safety for women. She said on Sunday that it felt betrayed and saddened by the country’s direction.
“Living somewhere where my autonomy is threatened doesn’t really make me feel like I want to celebrate,” said Sales, 32, while grabbing a coffee at a farmers market in Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood. “There’s a lot about this country that I don’t think is worth celebrating.”
Of course, even on a happy Independence Day, the fireworks are a terror to her furry friend: “I’ll stay home and calm my cat,” said Sales.
Others leaning to the left said they still plan to bust out their barbecues – but a shadow hangs over the day.
Kevin Wagner Foster, of Richmond, is keeping a close eye on the January 6 committee hearing that made headlines this week after the explosive testimony of a mid-level Trump employee. Standing with his wife, Sally, at the Alameda County Fair, he said he would celebrate Monday, but was thinking about rising corruption in the government and a lack of accountability on the part of Republican politicians.
“I think I’ll consider the current state of things,” Wagner Foster said. “I wish everyone was on the same page instead of so much division between us. It’s not good.”
But in the blue sea of progressives are the Bay Area’s red dots — who expressed their delight over recent Supreme Court rulings, disdain for President Joe Biden and the state of the economy. Some shared the view that not attending the Fourth of July was a dereliction of duty.
Ralph Rogers, 78, stood at a farmers market in downtown San Carlos. In the midst of a crowd of people, he wore a blue cap emblazoned with the seal for the Commander-in-Chief. He said he debated wearing a vest emblazoned with the American flag, but thought he’d save it for tomorrow.
He lamented that no one else around him decided to show red, white and blue.
“It bothers me that there isn’t enough patriotism,” said Rogers, a self-proclaimed Republican and resident of San Carlos.
Other conservatives, such as Martinez resident Joe Summers, recently called for Roe v. Wade’s decision “brilliant” and described the January 6 committee as a “dog and pony show”. Standing near a game booth at the fair, Summers wore a straw cowboy hat with a T-shirt emblazoned with “Let’s Go Brandon”, a coded political slogan against the current president. He said he was particularly annoyed by gas prices, as it now costs more than $30 to fill the tank of his motorcycle.
Will Summers celebrate the fourth: Certainly, not only because America is “the best country ever,” he said, but because Democrats face tough prospects in November’s midterm elections as the economy sours and The President’s approval rating has gone down.
“We’re going to get rid of those woke crap soon,” he said.
Although the division between the various interpretations and approaches to the holiday may appear infinite, San Jose State University history professor Libra Hilde said the Fourth of July has been a controversial occasion since the country’s inception.
She cited the example of Vicksburg, Miss., whose residents refused to celebrate Independence Day for 80 years after the American Civil War because the Union occupied the city on that day.
“The Fourth of July has always meant different things to different people,” said Hilde, a Civil War expert. “I think it always will be.”
Hilde said she thinks that no matter one’s political streaks, there is one thing every American can do on the fourth day.
“People need to think about how to make the country better,” she said. “Nothing is ever perfect. And nothing will ever be perfect.”
To be honest about the country’s issues, warts and all, that’s the holiday.
“Pointing out mistakes is not seditious,” she said. “You’re being overly patriotic. You’re saying, ‘We can be better.’ ,