How do you start your day? I really enjoy my mornings. I have a comfortable chair. I have coffee. Give me a few more years and I’ll enjoy sitting on the porch. I enjoy my mornings without a television, newspaper or computer talking to me. I’ll admit I’m on the computer right now, but I’m the one doing the talking, and that’s an important distinction; I’ll get to that in a moment.
You see, I retired five months ago. I worked for fifty years so that I can have mornings like this. Now don’t get me wrong; I like to see what you folks are doing and what’s going on in the world, but I don’t need to spend my day hearing about it. I’m not for sticking my head in the sand, but it’s entirely possible that a minute or two in the sand would have a cool and calming effect. It might be better than Xanax. I don’t claim to be smarter than anyone else about this but, being retired, I do have time to sit and think without somebody in my face trying to influence me.
Take this election process, for example. Every day for the past year, I’ve been faced with an incessant buildup to an election that won’t take place for another eight months. If I chose to leave the television on, or to spend my day on Facebook, I would be hearing about it until I go to bed tonight.
We didn’t used to need a two-year election process. Back in my day (young people, forgive me for that phrase. I get some perverse pleasure out of saying it), but back in my day, we knew who the candidates were. They made speeches and it was reported. We felt intelligent enough to vote.
I don’t think we are the prime beneficiaries of the two-year election/primary process. I think it’s someone else. When you want an answer to something like this, follow the money. The true profiteers of the extended campaign and shortened news cycle are (drum roll): the media who bring it to us. There are billions and billions of dollars being spent for those commercials. We’re only halfway through the primaries. There are two conventions down the road, followed by the buildup to an election. After the election, the media begins to tear down the king they have created. It’s nothing but play in a sandbox, writ large and encompassing years of our lives, while the media makes off with billions. It’s time we might have spent enjoying our friends. Living with a candidate every day, every hour is dangerously similar to being married to someone who gets to do all the talking. Familiarity can breed contempt.
Who’s at fault? You tell me. All I know is that broadcasting to me every hour about who said what reminds me of that creepy little guy in school who always whispered in my ear about something somebody said. Seems to me that if we get away from that creepy little guy and think for ourselves, we’ll generally arrive at a calm and rational idea.
My parents were Republicans. After four years of college in the sixties with hair down to my shoulders, getting married, having children and working for a living, I eventually got there. But things changed, and I suspect it was merely another form of that creepy little guy from the schoolyard. I don’t call myself a Republican these days. I’m sort of like Reagan; I didn’t leave the Republican party; it got late, the party lasted too long and I kicked them out. So now I’m a political orphan, looking for a leader. I want a leader with unbending conservative values and an ability to warmly engage those who disagree on methods. I can’t deny the fact that a lot of my friends are progressive in their thinking; we disagree on almost everything. But we disagree well. Two friends with agreeable manners can make progress without a pickaxe.
I like my presidential debates without reference to the size of a candidate’s hands as a veiled reference to the size of his reproductive anatomy. I’m no prude. I can swear like a sailor if I I’m angry or feel the need. Three points: 1. Shouldn’t have happened. 2. Anybody who feels the need to respond to something like that has a deep-seated insecurity about something and 3. Like a fight in football, it’s always the second swing that gets the penalty. Who mentioned the subject in the first place? Whose campaign staff advised their candidate to do a hand job on his opponent? And yes, I’m sorry I said that and I promise never to do it again. When I was a child, I spoke as a child. I defended my misbehavior with “But Johnny did it.” And my mother would always say “if Johnny jumped off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff?”
Maybe the reason we get so angry these days about politics, disrupt speeches, lose friendships, and have our feelings bent out of shape is because someone has been whispering to us, hell bent on creating discord. Maybe if we stuck our cell phones in our pocket, turned off the television and started listening to our friends, we’d have calm and rational ideas. So maybe the real questions are these: Who won’t leave us alone? Who won’t stop talking? Who wants us to fight? Who is it, whispering in our ear?