Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Montana Politics, 2010


MONTANA POLITICS, 2010

When you go to the firehouse to vote on the first Tuesday of November, there is a row of mostly grey-haired ladies behind long tables, checking off names and addresses on lists.  It must be a long day for them.  I arrived in t-shirt and jeans covered in different colors of house paint, too tired to clean up and be presentable.  It amused them.

It was a time warp back to my earliest voting experience.  You go behind a red, white and blue curtain in a booth with a shelf and a pencil.  They give you a kind of clip board and a two sided ballot, and you actually mark your choice with a #2 pencil, just as your grandparents did.  There is a kind of intimacy in this ritual that the voting machines have taken away from us.  Your pencil marks help determine what will happen to these people’s lives.  It gives one pause.

Much too early that evening, it became clear from CNN’s exit polls that it was a massive voter reaction against incumbents for the mess of the so-called economy, for the wildly expensive wars that will be debated in history books for generations.  Mostly, the voters are angry, that their jobs they carried on from previous generations are gone, their cattle don’t bring a decent price, that forest stewardship here mostly means that wood comes in from Canada, that they are in danger of losing their ranches cherished and passed down from great grandparents.  How do you see the log cabin built over 100 years ago hit the auction block and ever see the world the same again.  It’s just an old building to be torn down by the foreclosing bank.  No pain, no gain.

So the voters are angry, with damned good reason.  The helpless feeling fills the clear, clean air of northwestern Montana.  The giant corporations and government of “public servants” who are supposed to be on your side are mostly looking out for their own. 
Their salaries may not be huge, but the medical plans, fringe benefits, and retirement courtesy of the tax payers are well worth the trouble of running for office.  Their houses are warmer than those of citizens in northwest Montana.

Now, while the polls are still open in the west, a leading Republican politician is moved to tears at the overwhelming victory of his party.  It’s a new day, and they will now proceed to save the nation and the world.  They will save us all from the incompetent opposition, which has in two short years nearly brought about the end of the world, single handed.  The tanned GOP gentleman, like many of the voters, has a short memory.  Think back to the billions given by your President to venal corporations on Wall Street, without any requirement to account for where those billions went, or guarantee that it would be paid back. 

And on the other side of the aisle, the party of the current President lament that the country is doomed, now that the terrible opposition, aka lunatic fringe, are in charge.  Now those of us who voted for the “losers” will now begin our period of grieving for the loss.  And we will predict the most dire consequences from this landslide.  They’ll be sorry, they’ll see.  It will be their fault.  When we came into office two years ago, we should have stopped the gushing of money we couldn’t afford, but we added to it.  Does anyone have the honesty to stand up and say we are all guilty, so stop pointing fingers?

There is an old jewish saying about how a man is judged by his enemies.  And when an enemy dies, he grieves more than when he loses a friend.  Why did the creator plant this pathetic cell in our brains?  Is it part of Free Will to clutch our enemies to our breasts, to feed and nurture them so that we know whom we hate when we wake up every morning?  Does anyone pause and say to himself, “I am better than that.”

Does anyone pause and declare that he will put principles before personalities… that he will put this country above pettiness… that he will leave the poison of hating his enemies out of our government?  It begins with putting destructive hate out of our own souls.

11-3-2010

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