The Corniest Thing You’ll Read Today

By Troy Headrick

I glance at the clock and note that it’s 6:26 p.m.  The date is Friday, November 6th, 2020. 

I feel mentally and physically exhausted.  Earlier this week, on Tuesday—which seems like forever ago—Americans went to the polls to choose a president and many other elected officials.  Despite the passage of nearly three full days, we still don’t have complete election closure. 

It’s been hard to concentrate this week at work.  I’ve felt nervous and dyspeptic.  Now, oddly enough, on this Friday evening, as the outcome of the presidential plebiscite hangs in the balance, I’m thinking about myself.  I’m wondering why any of this matters or, put more accurately, why it matters so much. 

When I was a younger man, deeply involved in getting an education so that I might get started, I never voted.  Though I was interested in all things political and had even earned my first degree in political philosophy, I never even filled out the required paperwork that would give me the legal right to express myself in such a way.  I think, all these years later, I understand why I was a nonparticipant.  It’s because I felt like I was invisible.  Invisible people move through the world in the same way ghosts do.  They are not touched by things, nor are things touched by them.  In their travels, they leave as little trace as possible, and they certainly feel no need to step into anything even remotely resembling a polling locale.  Voting is something the seen does.

I was poor at that time and thus considered myself invisible.  I guess I’m something like middle-class now, whatever the hell that means.  Having no money meant that I had no substance, which is often measured by material worth, at least in this country.  The political world was not aware of me and thus did not speak to me because we shared no common language.  As far as I could tell, it seemed not to be interested in (or capable of) speaking to people who were like me either. 

I’m starting to ramble.  I’m not surprised by that.  In fact, I expected that I would end up meandering, going off course.  This is the sort of piece that could end up going in many different directions.

I have long thought that I had emotionally divorced myself from America, but I’ve made an interesting discovery this week.  That’s not true at all.  Even when I was living overseas for all those years, I still closely followed the affairs of the country that had issued my passport.  But I always thought that my interest was of the cool, dispassionate sort. 

This week I learned how deeply connected I am to this soil and idea called “The United States of America.”  I guess you could even say—though it embarrasses me to no earthly end to actually write these words—that I love this place.  How outrageously corny! 

The television and the internet tell me that we are going to soon learn that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have crossed the magical threshold.  Then (and only then) will I be able to exhale. 

And I know, at that moment of crossing, that I’ll feel something stirring in me that I will call “pride.”


Troy Headrick’s personal blog can be found here and his business page can be found here.

36 thoughts on “The Corniest Thing You’ll Read Today

  1. I cried…happy tears….but I cried a lot. I didn’t know how much I cared either. I didn’t realize how deeply this has all impacted me. Thank you for writing and sharing, Troy.

  2. Corn needs rich, firm soil to grow, so never apologise for being corny. It just means your feelings are fertile. 🙂 I enjoyed the vote this year, not because the result was to my liking, but because it felt like people finally felt like their vote counted. Sounds like maybe you recognised this too?

    1. I felt like a foot soldier in a giant army that had amassed against a clear and present danger. I like your metaphor of corn and soil. We often use the term “democracy” but then just go through the motions. This year, the democratic act actually seemed to be a very meaningful one. Thanks for participating in this conversation.

  3. Thank God. To actually hear a president-elect say he his gong is to bring America together regardless of what party they are affiliated with is gratifying. I’ve chewed my fingers so much I don’t have any fingerprints.

    1. Tim, I don’t chew my fingers, but I have pulled my hair out on numerous occasions. In fact, I ended up having to wear a hat around all the time because my hair has gotten ridiculous. Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy hearing from you.

  4. I cried when the news broke Troy and I’m not even American. But as a citizen of the world who strongly believes in freedom and the right to express yourself. Who wants what’s best for his children and this planet. For all those who died this year. For all those who died for freedom and democracy. I felt this one really really mattered. The idea that so many still found Trump an acceptable role model for their children breaks my heart. We are a long way from where we need to be. I think it’s important to remember that. Now is the time to push on and mend what 4 years of Trump has broken. And to make sure we are never so reckless with our freedoms ever again. Wishing you well Troy.

    1. Thanks, APS. I can’t begin to tell you how traumatic the last four years have been for many Americans. I felt like, on a nearly daily basis, that I need to issue an apology to the citizens of the world for America having foisted such an individual on the entire planet. We’ve started to atone for such an act, but, like you said, we have plenty of big issues and problems ahead of us. Now, at least, America has found the sort of person who will partner with other countries rather than taking an adversarial stance. We have to see ourselves–regardless of where we live and so on–as brothers and sisters. We have to intermingle and get to know one another. I look forward to the day we cease to think less of ourselves as “belonging to” this or that country and more as citizens of the world.

      1. I have sympathy for America in many ways. I feel like the rest of the world is always poking a stick at you guys. Making fun of the country. It’s always under the spotlight. If the shoe were on the other foot I would probably use pride to defend myself as well. I believe this has exacerbated the problem of American exceptionalism as you like to call it. But it’s part of the same problem. America’s problem’s are the world’s problem’s. We need to smash the labels we attach to ourselves and one another and start thinking as a collective. We are all humans first and foremost. Thanks Troy. Here’s to a much brighter 4 years under Biden.

      2. I wish there were some way we could get rid of national borders. I wish we could start seeing ourselves in larger, more universal terms. From time to time, back when I was living abroad, people would ask me where I was from. I always understood why they asked such a question, but I felt like it was such a boring question to begin a conversation with. Often, when asked, I would tell them I felt like a “citizen of the world.” It’s these national hangups, this sense of being patriotic–where does patriotism end and nationalism begin?–that seem to get us in so much trouble. And it’s national pride that has long been something I’ve looked askance at, which is why I felt so ashamed when I began to feel something that seemed to be “love of country.” I’m against the notion of “country.” Country is an artificial and political construct that shrinks the human spirit down.

  5. We watched from the UK and held our breath alongside you. I found your post a wonderful read and you made me reflect on my youth and the feeling of invisibility. I didn’t realise until reading your post that I still feel that way in many arenas – perhaps because the invisibility also provides solace so I haven’t worked hard to be seen unless I was willing to give up the peace of invisibility. You’ve certainly given me something to chew over this morning! 😀

      1. Invisibility in the sense I was using it here, though, has a socio-economic meaning. Poor people–marginaliized people–are really not seen by the mainstream. The impovershed and the marginalized need to be seen by policy makers and others. It was noted recently, by a political pundit, that in no recent political debate, was the topic of “the poor” ever discussed. How could possibly have happened? If you are poor and if you know that no one sees you and talks about your trials, you are not empowered–you are ignored. I see what you’re saying about invisibility in a more philosophical sense. I often try–when I want to “drop out” and/or “get away”–to achieve invisibility. Thanks for your comment. I’d like to hear what you think about my thoughts here.

    1. The poor in America really are invisible. They literally don’t matter to the political class. Leaders in America need to talk more about poverty and the impoverished. They are left entirely out of most political conversations. I don’t know if this sort of thing is true or not in the UK. Perhaps Biden will be more a buddy to those who are the least among us. Thanks for your comment. And thanks for being America’s long-time best friend.

    2. Hi. I posted a comment to you but it somehow appeared two comments down. Here’s what I said: The poor in America really are invisible. They literally don’t matter to the political class. Leaders in America need to talk more about poverty and the impoverished. They are left entirely out of most political conversations. I don’t know if this sort of thing is true or not in the UK. Perhaps Biden will be more a buddy to those who are the least among us. Thanks for your comment. And thanks for being America’s long-time best friend.

    1. Yes. And it’s scary that “Trumpism”–so people think of it as a version of “populism” which is a kind of sweet-sounding euphemism for something much darker and more menacing–is popping up in many places. We’ve got to stuff this ugly genie back in the bottle and then push the cork in.

      1. I was talking about this very topic with a very idealist person recently. After hearing her argument, I simply answered by saying (something like the following): Human beings suck. Don’t be surprised when they do the wrong thing. In fact, I’d be surprised if humans acted wisely and did the right thing. We were talking about how humans abuse nature and the planet and are destroying the environment.

  6. My kid and I cried tears of joy when we saw the final results on t.v. Saturday morning. And I instantly physically felt the tension leaving my body. It’s not going to be an easy road, especially between now and inauguration day, but my hope in my country has now been restored.

    1. Before the election, I saw an interesting poll that said 68 percent of all Americans were feeling anxiety about the election. Many of us are likely suffering from something akin to PTSD. Unfortunately, it’s not over yet. I’ll breath easier after the Biden inauguration.

  7. …Invisible people move “through” the world …”nor are things touched by them”… “leave as little trace as possible” … “whatever the hell that means” – so appropriately expressed, for I recognize such invisibility, although in a different context.

    Rights must be exercised, that are freely bestowed, for there are usually others waiting to be fought for. People, passing off their own votes earlier and setting off their rights this time, tell us a story – what happens when every single vote is cast.

    1. Hi. I think I addressed this comment earlier. I’d like to hear what you think about my first comment to you. I think you are a wise person, so I’m always anxious to hear your point of view.

    1. Hi. Sorry about the delay in responding. I understand your nervousness about the current situation. I, too, feel uneasy. Even after Biden is sworn in, there will still be this toxicity that we have to deal with. Tnanks so much for the kind words and take care.

  8. It is discomforting to realize that bedlam and chaos will continue to reign in the White House for another 70 days (Yes, I’m counting!) What perplexes me the most are the people continuing to propel the madness and propagate the idea of voter fraud, a seed so easily dropped from the mouth of our incumbent resident.( Which rhymes with what he is..sort of)
    Being from Georgia, I am especially saddened that our (Republican) Secretary of State and his Department of Elections Manager are being asked to resign after absolutely no evidence of voter fraud. Yes, Republican. We didn’t vote the “Right” way, so there must be hell to pay!
    I am in continued prayer for our country. Thanks, Troy.

    1. Thank you! I live in Texas, a state with a Republican governor, so I know exactly what you mean. Texas was officially “red” in the last election but that was only because the governor took all sorts of voter suppression moves that ended up allowing the rural areas to punch above their weight. In Texas, the urban areas are very Democratic. It’s the little towns and villages we have to worry about. Georgia, like Texas, will eventually go solidly blue as the demographics inevitably change. Mark my word, Trump is going to end up being the GOP’s worst nightmare and we’re seeing that play out in Georgia. He is loyal to no one, even those who’ve spent years groveling at his feet.

  9. This really spoke to me: “The political world was not aware of me and thus did not speak to me because we shared no common language.” It put to words why this election was only the second time I’ve ever voted. I have always felt divorced from it; none of the decisions made had an effect on my day to day life. This election felt different to me and I also found myself feeling lost, anxious, nervous…a lot of things…last week until Saturday, when the results came out.

    1. Hi, Stacey. Thanks for sharing your story. Americans have often been referred to as politically apathetic people, but that’s mostly because our federal government is controlled by powerful interests and so the wants and needs of the people–and by “people,” I mean the working class–are rarely addressed. And most Americans, even if they aren’t very political, understand this, in a visceral sort of way, if not intellectually. Also, I think we are sorely lacking in a general understanding of history and how government works, which makes it easier to not participate because it alls seems so abstract. I’m glad you voted this time. And I’m glad you stopped by. Take care and stay safe during this dangerous time.

  10. I don’t defend America so much as the preservation of democracy wherever I live. Voting thus represents a cathartic release from the emotional trauma of authoritarianism that I have witnessed in the last four years.

    1. Yes, “authoritarianism” is the right word. I’ve spent years living abroad, often in countries that weren’t democratic at all. So, when Trump arrived on the scene, I knew what was coming. We have to be on guard that this sort of thing, now somewhat rooted, doesn’t return or flourish. Thanks for your comment. You are an astute observer of politics, my friend.

  11. Oh thank you. Being a history teacher for decades had given me plenty of practice in thinking critically about the past-present connection.

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