Still politicking me off

I originally wrote this back in 2010 – not a presidential year, but still rather volatile, politically. Stumbling across it again now, I wondered if my gripes then differed from today.  I’ll let you be the judge, though I have added a few more contemporary comments, in bold italics.

October, 2010

I recently had a firsthand experience that outlines just how acutely American politics has gotten to the vapid, too-partisan-for-words, what-about-us-in-the-mainstream, point that it is now at.

The other day, my phone rang; picking it up, I was not surprised to hear a chirpy-sounding pollster/political operative voice on the other end asking me if I “had a moment” to answer a quick question. Before I could get the “Sure” out of my mouth, the young woman (no personal identification, party phonebankor PAC affiliation given) just jumped right in:

“Good afternoon, sir, I am wondering if you plan to vote on November second?”
“Indeed I do.”
“Great! Could you please tell me then, do you plan on voting for the Republicans, the Democrats or are you undecided?”
“Well, I plan on voting for some Democrats and some Republicans.”

Pause.

“Soooo….then I should mark you down as ‘undecided’?” she asked as a statement, in a puzzled tone.
“Not at all! I know exactly who I am voting for.”
“O.K….but will you be voting for the Republicans or the Democrats?”
“Some of each, actually. I haven’t voted a straight party line ticket for many years.”

Pause.

“So, I should mark you down as ‘undecided’.” She was quite certain this was the correct answer.
“No,I am definitely not ‘undecided.’ I will be voting for some Democrats, some Republicans.”
“O.K. – so you’re not undecided.” Her tone reverted to bewilderment, but at least it was a statement, not a tentative question.
“Not at all. I know exactly who I’ll be voting for. . . I can tell you I will not be phonebank2voting for the Republican running for the senate.”

“O.K….well…” it seemed as though she was checking her notes seeking the proper response to my, uhhh…independent streak, “…you’re not undecided.”
“No, I ‘m definitely not undecided.”
Short pause.
“Thanks a lot, sir. Have a nice day.”
“Thanks. You too.”

Click.

Again, I don’t know what organization, party, PAC, coffee klatch or bridge club she was representing – but there were a few things about the call that concerned me.

The first is that my answer should not have been seen as such an oddity.

Surely I am not the only person in the country who will vote for – GASP! – the best candidate (as I see it) for the job, regardless of party affiliation – or am I truly the last of a dying breed? I wouldn’t think my answer should have led to such consternation; flustered the woman completely, I did.  2016: I believe I may indeed be the last of a dying breed, and should photo-5-copyprobably be protected in a game preserve somewhere to prevent my extinction.

Secondly, given the state of today’s political landscape, why was I only given the ol’ Repubs/Dems option – even in Louisiana? It’s 2010, for crying out loud – no Tea Party, Independence Party, Tupperware party – nothing? (Not that any of those entities have much to offer me– except I could use some new storage bowls.) It’s just the principle of the thing: only offering bunting2me ‘will you be voting for the Republicans or the Democrats’?  makes no sense, though I especially liked her old-school ‘THE Republicans’ and ‘THE Democrats’. then again, maybe having principles is too old school for the modern electorate.  In 2016, here in the deeply red state of Louisiana, the Republicans running do not identify as such in their advertising; they simply geaux (sic) with “x-and-o, CONSERVATIVE for (whatever office)”.  I have yet to see a commercial here identifying a candidate as ‘Republican.’

All in all, it was a very strange call to be getting but certainly not the most egregious political intrusion of the season. Some other election year pet peeves? Let me count the ways we can make this a much more comfortable process.

1. Keep yours/ours/their religion out of politics – and vice versa. Yeah, we may belong to the same faith – heck, even the same denomination – but just because we share a pew on Sunday morning doesn’t mean I share your political stance. And it really ticks me off when you start talking politics over coffee, and you assume we all agree – because we go to the same church – and you continually use the pronoun ‘we’ in your pronouncements. Let me tell ya, guys…you seem like basically decent fellows, but there is usually no pogo3‘me’ in your ‘we’.  Six years later, I am attending two different churches regularly, and this is not an issue at ether. Though at one, people do not discuss politics at all, and the other is a more social justice oriented congregation, where differences are discussed and celebrated.  A much more comfortable scenario in either case.

2. Along the same lines is this sidebar to candidates; stop telling me you’re a ‘family values’ kind of guy. Who’s family? Aadams? Manson? Swiss Robinsons? It’s especially galling when you talk of ‘family values’ and your background includes dalliances with hookers, DUI’s or past domestic disturbance calls to your home. I’m all for redemption, but don’t play the family-values‘family values’ card – stick with issues, give me your solutions to problems – ya know, the stuff I really want my politicians to do. This is more true than ever – at least in regards to the phrase ‘family values’ which now has the linguistic value of a three-dollar-bill.

3. Quit demonizing everyone you disagree with absurd labels: Socialist! Darwinist! Illegal immigrant supporter! Racist! Anti-business! Muslim! Not a real (fill-in-the-blank)! I know, I know – shock value gets attention…when you are in the sixth grade. Grow the hell up, people. Yes, please do – as individuals, and as a culture. 

4. Oh yeah, while you’re at it, please drop the use of the word ‘pro’ from your electioneering. Pro-life! Pro-choice! Pro-guns! Pro-business! Pro-environment! Pro being pro-whatever-you-want-me-to-be! Per the fine folks at Merriam-Webster:

  • pro (noun) \ˈprō\  1.an argument or evidence in affirmation  2: the affirmative side or one holding it.

‘Affirmative side or one holding it’. By definition, you are implying that anyone who is not ‘pro’ like you is automatically ‘anti’ whatever you are ‘pro’ of. That is absolute nonsense. On any issue you want to be ‘pro’ on, there is pros-and-consplenty of room on the spectrum of logical, rational thought before you get to ‘anti’. (see number 1, above)  Does this one still hold true?  Absolutely. ‘Pro’ may be the single most misused word in American political discourse. 

You get the idea. The whole black/white concept of American politics is ridiculous, dangerous and stupid – and the results are pretty obvious. Our national debate should be taking place in the gray areas where most of us live – somewhere between the I’m- pro-this-and-you’re-anti-that-so-go-to-hell extremists.

As Walt Kelley’s  famous comic strip character Pogo famously observed, way pogo1back in the 1950’s, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

In 2016 it remains true: we have, they are – and therein lies our greatest weakness as an American electorate:  we, they.  Very little ‘us’.

As in all of us.  As in U.S.  As in ‘We are all Americans’.

We need to start acting like it

Advertisements

Make it stop….please make it stop. (Or; Whew! No more political ads. For NOW.)

The following is addressed to everyone I know, regardless where they perch on the political spectrum.

I did my part today – I voted. Now I can (hopefully) not have to listen to anymore political ads and can instead set my sights on being annoyed by holiday advertising. Those ads are certainly as ubiquitous and insipid as anything political, but generally without the vitriol.

Now that the election is over (yeah, I know, the post-mortems have just begun) I have some free advice I hope everyone who reads this post will take to heart. In fact, please pass this along to anyone you think I might be referring to. (Example: If anyone you know has foam around their mouth when discussing President Obama, Sarah Palin, the Left or the Tea Party – send this their way…pronto!)

Now then…

To my friends on the right: Please lay off e-mailing me political cartoons and exclamation-point laced tirades about the ‘evils’ of the left. This will now include anything involving and/or referring to ‘destroying Liberalism.’ You cannot destroy an idea…Lord only know why you would seek to, simply because you don’t agree with it. Trust me; Liberals and their ideals/ideas aren’t hurting you one bit. Even the really bad ideas and ideals you see as sinister.

To my friends on the left: Please lay off e-mailing me political cartoons and exclamation-point laced tirades about the ‘evils’ of the right, the anti-American, racist bent of the Tea Party, George Bush. He is history; move on. Same goes for you; Conservatives and their ideals/ideas aren’t hurting you one bit. Even the really bad ideas and ideals you see as sinister.

To everyone: No, I do not believe that President Obama is a raving Socialist, Muslim, born in another country, ‘subversive supporter of Muslim terrorists’ to name just a few epithets that I have seen. The fact that many of YOU do scares me a bit, but have your little delusions – just keep most of them to yourselves. I also don’t believe that the Tea Party is a racist, ‘anarchist front’. The fact that many of YOU do feel this way also scares me a bit, but I find you, too, generally harmless. Please keep your fantasy lives just that. Now the Tea Party may be a bit heavy on people who have too much time to spend on Betsy Ross and Colonial Minuteman costumes, but that’s another story.

And all of you, quit throwing terms like Socialist, Fascist, elitist and banker around willy-nilly. You sound like you’re trapped in some time-warp junior high history class stuck on unit covering the 1930’s.

The reason I can say ‘don’t worry’ about the Tea Party, Socialists, Obama, Palin, et al is quite simple; our Republic has survived far more serious threats than anything – ANYTHING – I see on the horizon today – regardless of who is spewing what kind of hate .

And yes, that includes the threat of terrorism. If you think the garbage everyone is yelling from both sides of the political spectrum is unique, or heralds some end-times, think again. Here is just a partial list, in no particular order of importance or chronology, of things our country has endured and yes – survived – just in my lifetime – that have fueled generation upon generation of good old American Chciken-Litttles:

McCarthyism
The Cold War
Cuban Missile Crisis
Assassinations: JFK, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, MLK, RFK
LBJ’s Great Society
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Kent State
Watergate (including the Saturday Night Massacre)
Gas crisis of the 1970’s
Jerry Ford’s WIN
Jimmy Carter’s ‘malaise’ admonishment
Iran Hostages crisis (and Iran Contra scandal)
Myriad Supreme Court decisions
9/11 attacks
Patriot Act

And yet, the Republic endures!

If you think ‘Obama Care’ or the Tea Party, or Palin, O’Donnell, Obama, Pelosi or whomever is to American Society as the Plague was to Medieval Europe – go hang out at a Renaissance Fair somewhere and let us normal, rational people in the middle try –TRY – to get something positive accomplished.

Like having a life.

So there. It’s over, we can now go about the business of actually prodding the people we elected to actually do something instead of just spewing overwrought rhetoric. You did actually vote for people with ideas, right? You didn’t just vote for someone because, oh, I don’t know…they said they were
Conservative!
Liberal!
Prolife!
Prochoice!
For stuff!
Against stuff!
Prowar!
Antiwar!
Need more war!

Oh yeah…one more thing. Being against a specific someone/something/some group/some idea is no way, shape or form ‘Un-American.’ If you want to spend me any of that crap via e-mail, Facebook, whatever, expect it to come back at you, because to me the labeling of one’s political opponents or opposing ideas as ‘Un-American’ is about as counter patriotic as it gets.

Thanks, and have a happy non-election season.

Politico, shmalitico

I recently had a firsthand experience that outlines just how American politics has gotten to the vapid, too-partisan-for-words, what-about-us-in-the-mainstream, point that it is now at. The other day, my phone rang; picking it up, I was not surprised to hear a chirpy-sounding pollster/political operative voice on the other end asking me if I “had a moment” to answer a quick question. Before I could get the “Sure” out of my mouth, the young woman (no personal identification, party or PAC affiliation given) just jumped right in:
“Good afternoon, sir, I am wondering if you plan to vote on November second?”
“Indeed I do.”
“Great! Could you please tell me then, do you plan on voting for the Republicans, the Democrats or are you undecided?”
“Well, I plan on voting for some Democrats and some Republicans.”

Pause.

“Soooo….then I should mark you down as ‘undecided’?” she asked as a statement, in a puzzled tone.
“Not at all! I know exactly who I am voting for.”
“O.K….but will you be voting for the Republicans or the Democrats?”
“Some of each, actually. I haven’t voted a straight party line ticket for many years.”

Pause.

“So, I should mark you down as ‘undecided’.” She was quite certain this was the correct answer.
“No,I am definitely not ‘undecided.’ I will be voting for some Democrats, some Republicans.”
“O.K. – so you’re not undecided.” Her tone reverted to bewilderment, but at least it was a statement, not a tentative question.
“Not at all. I know exactly who I’ll be voting for. . . I can tell you I will not be voting for the Republican running for the senate.”

“O.K….well…” it seemed as though she was checking her notes seeking the proper response to my, uhhh…independent streak, “…you’re not undecided. “
“No, I ‘m definitely not undecided.”
“Thanks a lot, sir. Have a nice day.”
“Thanks. You too.”

Click.

Again, I don’t know what organization, party, PAC, coffee klatch she was representing – but there were a few things about the call besides political callers not identifying themselves that concerned me.

The first is that my answer should not have been seen as such an oddity. Surely I am not the only person in the country who will vote for – GASP! – the best candidate (as I see it) for the job, regardless of party affiliation – or am I truly the last of a dying breed? I wouldn’t think my answer should have led to such consternation; flustered the woman, I did.

Secondly, given the state of today’s political landscape, why was I only given the ol’ Repubs/Dems option? It’s 2010, for crying out loud – no Tea Party, Independence Party, Tupperware party – nothing? (Not that any of those entities have much to offer me– except I could use some new storage bowls.) It’s just the principle of the thing: only offering me ‘will you be voting for the Republicans or the Democrats’?  makes no sense, though I especially liked her old-school ‘THE Republicans’ and ‘THE Democrats’. then again, maybe having principles is too old school for the modern electorate.

All in all, a very strange call to be getting but certainly not the most egregious political intrusion of the season. Some other election year pet peeves? Let me count the ways…

1. Keep yours/ours/their religion out of politics – and vice versa. Yeah, we may belong to the same faith – heck, even the same denomination – but just because we share a pew on Sunday morning doesn’t mean I share your political stance. And it really ticks me off when you start talking politics over coffee, and you assume we all agree – because we go to the same church – and you continually use the pronoun ‘we’ in your pronouncements. Let me tell ya, guys…you seem like basically decent fellows, but there is usually no ‘me’ in your ‘we’.

2. Along the same lines is this sidebar to candidates; stop telling me you’re a ‘family values’ kind of guy. Who’s family? Aadams? Manson? Swiss Robinsons? It’s especially galling when you talk of ‘family values’ and your background includes dalliances with hookers, DUI’s or past domestic disturbance calls to your home. I’m all for redemption, but don’t play the ‘family values’ card – stick with issues, give me your solutions to problems – ya know, the stuff I really want my politicians to do.

3. Quit demonizing everyone you disagree with absurd labels: Socialist! Darwinist! Illegal immigrant supporter! Racist! Anti-business! Muslim! Not a real (fill-in-the-blank)! I know, I know – shock value gets attention…when you are in the sixth grade. Grow the hell up, people.

4. Oh yeah, while you’re at it, please drop the use of the word ‘pro’ from your electioneering. Pro life! Pro choice! Pro guns! Pro business! Pro environment! Pro being pro-whatever-you-want-me-to-be! Per the fine folks at Merriam-Webster:
“pro noun \ˈprō\ 1.an argument or evidence in affirmation 2: the affirmative side or one holding it.”

‘Affirmative side or one holding it’. By definition, you are implying that anyone who is not ‘pro’ like you is automatically ‘anti’ whatever you are ‘pro’ of. That is absolute nonsense. On any issue you want to be ‘pro’ on, there is plenty of room on the spectrum of logical, rational thought before you get to ‘anti’. (see number 1, above)

You get the idea. The whole black/white concept of American politics is ridiculous, dangerous and stupid – and the results are pretty obvious. Our national debate should be taking place in the gray areas where most of us live – somewhere between the I’m- pro-this-and-you’re-anti-that-so-go-to-hell extremists.

As the comic strip character Pogo famously observed, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”