5 Ways to Give America the Birthday It Deserves Next Year

#2. The Patriotism (And the Snarky Anti-Patriotism)

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Don't take this personally. I'm not saying that you, personally, hate freedom. I'm just saying that, on average, the American people are getting less patriotic and less happy with their freedom, which is actually something science can measure and not a sardonic misinterpretation of data by an Internet comedy writer. The quality of America's freedom has declined. And speaking just for myself, words like "freedom" and "'Merica!" have become jokes, sarcastic declarations, rather than something we actually want to celebrate on a grand scale. Hell, the most famously controversial thing President George W. Bush ever did was called "The PATRIOT Act." The words "freedom" and "patriot" have, for my entire adult life, been less about their dictionary definitions and more about being warning signs that the person speaking either has a weird, neo-conservative agenda, or is making fun of it.

But the weirdest display of patriotism that happens every Fourth of July is when people dress up in the American flag -- even though you're not supposed to do that.

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Your seduction is matched only by your treachery, communist!

Some people are wearing that costume ironically, but others are very, very sincere, which makes it especially weird, because it means their celebration is in violation of the rules of the thing they're supposed to be celebrating. The problem is that there's no non-controversial form of patriotism left -- it's all become politicized and douchey, so what we're even celebrating in the first place (Freedom? International supremacy? Michael Bay?) becomes a topic of debate. A big part of the holiday can easily become a) avoiding arguments or b) being uncomfortable with the celebrations that aren't exactly what you signed up for.

Then, even worse, you have people who can't help but voice all that shit. God, guys, it's bad enough living in my own head, I don't want to hear these thoughts coming out of other people's mouths too.

How to Fix It

Either grow up in an ideologically homogeneous family or... don't be a dick? That's really the only option I can think of. Shit. I really should've planned this article out before I started writing it, because this last one's gonna be kind of a doozy.

#1. The Politics

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We're a politically divided country. There's probably a source somewhere on the Internet that supports that idea. This means we're ready to argue, all the time, about pretty much everything -- but arguing is the exact opposite of what holidays are for. For all the reasons explained in the last entry, this makes the Fourth of July the worst holiday.

If we're honest with ourselves, we can admit that there are only four real holidays per year (Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, and the Fourth of July), and the Fourth of July is the most dangerous one. Halloween is fine because, as a holiday, it's not really "about" anything other than discovering what that slutty zombie's makeup tastes like. Christmas can start with some cutting remarks, but by the end you'll be exchanging gifts, and that reinforces emotional bonds. New Year's is always too loud for real arguments, and besides, you're still riding that high from Christmas. Don't even start me on Thanksgiving. It doesn't even have its own consistent day.

But Fourth of July? Everything about it is political! And on top of that, you're getting day-drunk, widely regarded among drunken scholars as the most dangerous and volatile way to get drunk. If you slam some beers at 11:30 p.m. and then get in a fight, you'll tire yourself out and wake up with some bruises and a cool story. Slam those beers at 11 a.m. and then get in a fight near an open barbecue and a bag full of probably-illegal-depending-on-your-state fireworks, and one of you is going to suffer a death normally reserved for an ethnically ambiguous villain at the 85-minute mark of a '90s action movie.

That's what everyone else is thinking during this holiday, right? No? Just what do you think you're implying about my mental health, sirs and madams?

How to Fix It

Revolution. Let's burn this fucking world down. For 'merica. For Freedom.

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But most of all, for never losing another hamburger to a paper plate.

I love you all. Happy Fourth.

JF Sargent is very much aware of the date, thank you. Follow him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

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