Heard any good Barack Obama jokes lately? One that you would repeat in public? No, I didn't think so. In this Age of Obama we have become a serious -even dour- nation, beset by division, fear and loathing.
How often do you watch what you say these days? Do you first consider who it is you're talking to and what they might think? Do you choose your words gingerly?
Are you quietly concerned that Homeland Security may have you on a list of potential right-wing extremists? (Did you see FBI agents at your local tax day Tea Party?) Do you wonder if they're watching you or listening in on your phone calls? I can't tell you how many times I've been told on the phone that the person on the other end of the line is not comfortable saying what they want to say.
"... but you know what I mean," they say hopefully.
Does it ever cross your mind that someone might think you don't really value your constitutional rights, that you're just frustrated and bitter because of your political impotence? Are you afraid to talk about the founder of Islam, or to mention to anyone your infidel faith in the G-d of Jews or Christians? Why, "they" might call you a "bible-thumper" -- or worse yet, loathe you as a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who doesn't believe in Progess, much less the Coming Climate Catastrophe.
Are you afraid to suggest politically incorrect analogies because they might be considered inflammatory, rather than simply provocative?
Do you studiously avoid discussing politics with strangers? What about your cousins or neighbors, or your own parents or children? Have you asked your doctor what he or she thinks about government reform of the healthcare system?
Do you dare even think that it's entirely possible for a Latina woman to be ethically inferior to an Angry White Man?
I wonder, do you wonder about the Civil War or the Holocaust more than you used to? Do you lately crave history and the wisdom of the Founding Fathers? Do you find yourself googling Mussolini, or admiring Winston Churchill anew?
Since transparency, like any other virtue, begins at home, I think we should all take a moment to admit if we are more fearful than we were a year ago... and to reflect on what it is we fear, what we fear for... and WHY.