I’ve spent quite a few Christmas holidays in some of the worst places on the planet. The kind of nasty locations you won’t see a half-naked Instagram influencer or celebrity posting pictures at that’s for damn sure.

When SOFREP Editor-in-Chief, Sean, asked me to write up a funny deployment Christmas story, I started writing about that time I spent in Afghanistan with ECHO and DELTA platoon, and that big fire that Ed fell into but I kept losing steam and backslid to what I was about to write because my mind was on the state of America.

The politically correct pendulum has swung itself off the gear, and we appear not to know what the hell to do or say these days.

“Can we even say Merry Christmas these days or is that too offensive?” I caught myself thinking the other day and what had me think about writing this post.

My mom’s side of the family is Christian. My parents were both hippies, but we still celebrated Christmas. I believe the Holiday generally brings out the best in people, and that’s a good thing. We need more “best of people” these days. I just finished a course at Harvard Business School that was a mix of countries, only 30% of the class was American. In addition to meeting some incredible people, I unearthed some pretty amazing perspectives on how the rest of the world is looking at America.

My conclusion?

America is like a Navy SEAL student lost in the mountains trying to navigate without a map, the sun is going down, and it’s getting real cold…bare feet toes numb after running out to get the mail on driveway pavers in the dead of winter cold.

Our strawberries taste like cardboard, in general, what we produce and feed our citizens is causing cancer and heart disease at alarming rates. While healthy trade with China and others prevents conflict we’ve gone so far as to export 90% of our drug manufacturing to China. Think about that for a minute…

A trip to the hospital emergency room would bankrupt most families not that you’d get great healthcare when you arrived, you won’t. You can learn more on YouTube than most schools teach, and our two-party duopoly and election process are failing us. We bank online but still vote in places by filling in paper ballot bubbles and allowing people who aren’t citizens to vote in local elections. Immigrants are what make America diverse and incredible but give them a path to citizenship THEN let them vote. Back to our leaders…

Can we really believe that guys like Trump or Biden best represent American interests? Trump is more concerned with stroking his ego and taking care of Trump than he is making anything great again but himself. Biden can barely remember what day it is and appears to have serious neurological issues and we want someone like that with the nuclear button. If I had my way I’d ship both of them, and most of Congress and the Senate,  off to the next Squid Game if I could. I would pay good money to watch that.

Biden and Trump’s generation shoved America, “All-in,” with a losing poker hand in the first place!

Then the great divide. We’ve let politicians divide us by drawing political maps (they call it gerrymandering) that guarantee election dynasties, and our news media feeds off negativity and clickbait headlines that further divide Americans rather than do what the spirit of journalism was meant to do, hold government and our organizations accountable as best possible. But divide we are and dividing we will fall if we don’t get our acts together, all of us.

As a combat veteran who served in the Middle East, and Afghanistan I’ve watched, since 2006, a U.S. Foreign Policy run around the globe like a spoiled rich kid on a cotton candy sugar rush throwing a tantrum, screaming at the top of his lungs with no result.

What have we accomplished with twenty years of war, lives lost, and trillions of taxpayer money? Not a whole damn lot. If anything, we are worse off. People don’t trust us. The dollar is under attack from China (the only thing keeping us relevant globally). We basically Venmo’d the Taliban $90B to arm themselves.

It was a nightmare to watch, and part of why a blog on military culture, SOFREP, turned into a news site. Because I wasn’t the only veteran seeing the country’s leadership start a trillion-dollar road paving project straight to hell with the overpass sign reading, “Good intentions.”

Merry Christmas SOFREP!

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We are so lost as a country right now that it encouraged me to nudge my kids to study abroad for college.

When my youngest son was in 7th grade he was at odds with his home room teacher, and she actually said this to him in front of the class, “You are a victim of white privilege.” Who says this to a 13 year-old kid! Insanity. How could he even comprehend such a thing at that age. His mom and I had to transfer him to a different school.

So I didn’t want my kids to have to deal with the stress the broken American University system (have you seen that Netflix special?) is putting on our young people.

Sending your kids to college to take on massive student debt, predatory lending, pushing gender confusion on them, racial issues, and teaching a syllabus that is so outdated to modern times it resembles two confused cavemen rubbing a stick and rock together expect fire to erupt any second.

So now my oldest son is in the U.K., and my daughter will likely end up in the Netherlands.

You know what else? College is so much more affordable in Europe for Americans. There’s tons of global diversity, the food, and quality of life are amazing, and schools are even free in some countries.

But wait, there is hope!

The founders of America would be shocked to find out how broken our Republic is, however, even though the roof has holes in it, the windows are broken, paint is peeling, the foundation of our country may still be solid but we need a gut remodel.

Thankfully the American system of government can actually still be influenced and changed by the people for the people and we have a system in place that, while not perfect, is pretty damn good.

Our currency isn’t sliding down a Venezuelan stripper pole just yet. We are still a global power with the best and most modern military the planet has ever seen. All of us can drive real change if we focus on core issues and fix the problem with plastic, not just focusing on the straws. We have shared freedom with enough of the world that there’s no taking it back.

Most importantly, we have some of the most brilliant people on the planet in America, but it’s time to start acting like it and the change starts with us. In the end, both Trump and Biden are a reflection of who we are as a people, as Americans.

In the words of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Because the government is not going to solve this one, it’s up to all of us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us at SOFREP.