Upon reading this headline, one may expect a miracle of nature to have occurred. It appears, though, that such an event is no longer necessary to astound everyday citizens. No, some force in Burlington did not freeze a plane in the air like Michelle Gomez’s character in Doctor Who did. The stationary plane of today sat on the ground, a hundred yards or so behind tall, outwardly sloped barbed wire fence, waiting for take-off.
From a crowd standing at a laser tag, mini golf and arcade complex across the street, murmurs grew, most of them mentioning the vice president. The plane, sitting motionless on the runway, just so happened to be Air Force Two. Surely, Mike Pence himself sat aboard, as the American patriots sat and watched. And sat and watched. And sat and watched some more.
At several strategic locations, police cars sat, lights flashing, harassing the occasional citizen. At times, they let the cars pass, parking in front of them at other times. It appears that traffic was alternating, one direction at a time, for at each point, the blockade only existed in one direction.
Running by the spectacle, I pondered why the crowd simply sat staring for several minutes. Not a thing was happening, and the brutal Vermont summer gnats were swarming the muggy afternoon. As the crowd, and the preceding and following cops, faded into the distance, so did the spectacle from my mind.
A bit over an hour later, though, my run took me back through the same location. Much to my surprise, an officer was still parked in the same location, about a half mile from the plane. Passing the first blockade, I asked the officer why it was necessary to halt traffic, and was given a short, curt response of “The vice president is leaving soon.”
Following up, I questioned what half of a traffic blockade had to do with Mike Pence. But as I kept jogging, the only sounds I heard were the tune of “Come Sail Away” in 5/4 time in my head, in perfect rhythm with the soft tone of my shoes hitting the pavement.
As the laser tag arena came into view, I noticed at once that the crowd had grown. However, many of the same faces stuck out, and I realized that they had been staring at the stationary plane for over an hour. Air Force Two was admittedly a neat sight. Yet, this was because I had been looking at overgrown fields and working-class homes for the past hour. For families with children at an entertainment complex, what was the draw? It seemed as if golf and ice cream would be much more entertaining. So, I asked several of the American patriots just what in the world was going on.
Unsurprisingly, none of the answers particularly stood out. A few of those who had been standing the entire time remarked that the vice president was leaving soon. But, those same people had mentioned the exact same thing over an hour ago. Just how long was soon going to be, and just how long would the stationary plane mesmerize them?
The most peculiar response came from a middle-aged man, who remarked that he was an American patriot, and even though he did not support Pence, this was a once in a lifetime experience. Burlington International Airport was only a couple of miles away, I thought, and he could watch planes sit still as nobody boarded or went near them any day he wanted. Maybe the neat colors on the side intrigued him.
Statism is quite an interesting ideology. The last police officer, on the opposite end of the crowd by a quarter mile, was still stopping cars with his own. When some of the drivers asked and were told of the situation, they appeared stunned, immediately losing any hint of anger or disapproval. Keep in mind, this is in Vermont, where Trump and Pence scored less than a third of the popular vote.
Despite this, the American patriots showed utter respect, almost worship, for the vice president. Though they overwhelmingly despise the man, the group, as well as the cars, appeared to simply forget this fact. The ideology of statism, surely, comes into play, for they all found Pence’s stationary plane quite interesting.
Beyond politics, it is hard to imagine such a love, such a deeply ingrained fascination, for such a hated figure. This is especially true when the figure himself is not even visible. It would have been more understandable, had Pence not been sitting in the craft the entire time.
Ultimately, every human life in existence is equal, and all possess an equal claim to life. Why, then, must even the most tribalist of us come together around a figure of destruction? The state, through its wars, drone strikes, taxes, regulations, and imprisonments, inherently hurts the individual. Arguably, the state is actually what causes tribalism in the first place, at least politically. Literally and metaphorically, I ran away from the spectacle of hero-worship, deep in thought, imagining a world where a stationary plane stained with the blood of innocents would not leave American patriots breathless.
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