This week, I will walk into the voting booth with a handful of career politicians, one con artist, and one idealist.
Truth be told, theyâ€™re all politicians. Even the guy whoâ€™s never been one before, by placing himself into the political arena, he takes on that definition.
Although we might like individual politicians, or at least dislike some less than others, the term itself hasâ€”often deservedlyâ€”become a much-maligned word. Itâ€™s been said (not by me) that a statesman is simply a dead politician, and that all good politicians are statesmen. Itâ€™s not hard to understand why: we generally see them as con artists, working the long game; telling people what they want to hear in order to get reelected and keep bringing in all that juicy lobbyist coin. They â€œtack leftâ€ or â€œtack rightâ€ as needed; they â€œplay to their baseâ€; they speechify when their advisers tell them it will matter and disappear into the woodwork when theyâ€™re told to keep out of the fight. They talk to us, look us in they eye, shake our hands, nod at our concerns. And then they fly back to DC, where they sign their names to â€œexample legislationâ€ handed to them by special interest groups and forget all about us until the next time they need our vote.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
This is the lot of the politician. You fight to get the job, and as soon as you have it, youâ€™re moving on to the next con; the next deal.
Hmm. Perhaps the guy who has never done this before isnâ€™t so inexperienced after allâ€¦
If all politicians are con artists, it probably makes sense to vote for the actual con artist, because at least heâ€™s not pretending to be anything else.
Itâ€™s the same reason folks love Las Vegas. It may take your money, but at least itâ€™s not pretending to love you back. You donâ€™t build a volcano or an Eiffel Tower replica or a dancing lake in the middle of the desert if the suckers arenâ€™t leaving with less cash than they arrived with.
Thereâ€™s a simple honesty in the obvious con, whether itâ€™s a slot machine or a sending a bill for a breathtaking wall to a neighboring country that didnâ€™t build it and doesnâ€™t want it. Maybe weâ€™ve been lied to so much over the years that weâ€™ll gravitate to simple honesty in whatever form we can find it.
But I digressâ€¦ I really want to talk about the other guy. Because thereâ€™s one candidate in this election who has never been accused of â€œtacking leftâ€ or â€œtacking right,â€ or of simply playing to his base, or saying whatever he needs to just to get elected. Heâ€™s stood up for what he believes in, even when it was unpopular. In fact, for decades heâ€™s used the word socialist to describe himself, even during an era in which â€œsocialistâ€ was a code word for â€œscary bad guy.â€
Truth is, most of us are socialists around hereâ€¦itâ€™s just a matter of degree. If you accept Medicare or Social Security: socialist. If you think OSHA should keep workplaces safe, or that laws should limit how many hours your employer can wring out of you without giving you a break: socialist. Government regulating the quality and marketing of drugs: socialist. Public water: socialist. Fire department: socialist. Trash collection: socialist.
By calling himself a socialist, Bernie Sanders is just telling it like it is.
Simple honesty. Sometimes you don’t see it when it’s right in front of you.
As a protester in the sixties, a mayor in the eighties, a representative in the nineties, and a senator in the aughts, he has a reliable and demonstrated track record of fighting for equality, fairness, and liberty.
Hey! Those are my values too!
There are some arguments against him:
Heâ€™s unelectable. Thatâ€™s true of everyone, right up until theyâ€™re elected. Iâ€™m told heâ€™s extremely popular in his home stateâ€”the people who know him bestâ€”so he must be doing something right.
His policies will cost too much. Thatâ€™s pretty much true of everyone whoâ€™s ever held the office, except maybe Herbert Hoover. Show me a president who saved the government money all by himself and Iâ€™ll show you a dead guy.
Heâ€™s not a woman, and itâ€™s time for a woman. No argument there. They boys club absolutely needs disruption. But I trust voting by genitalia about as much as I trust voting by party, which is to say not at all. All I ask is for the best candidate regardless of sex, and in 2016, thatâ€™s Sanders.
He’s not conservative. You’ve got me there. If conservative is worth more than honesty, follow your heart. Or vote for John Kasich, but unfortunately it looks like he has even less of a chance than Sanders.
The bottom line is, thereâ€™s not one person in this presidential election who has a solid track record of following his or her scruples for the recorded history of their existence. Not one person who has stood up for the little guy (or gal)â€¦for usâ€¦every single time itâ€™s mattered, for his entire life.
If this is a con, he must be running the really long game.
So on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, I will walk into the voting booth and cast my vote for Bernie Sanders. For the first and possibly the only time in my life, I will vote for a real person who believes what he is telling us and has the best interests of our country at heart. Someone whom I can support without reservation. An idealist. A quality dude.
I canâ€™t tell you how much that means to me. I may have to selfie the moment, just to be sure I was there. I may never have this chance again.
Congratulations Mr. Sanders. Youâ€™ve been earning my vote since before I was born.
And on Tuesday, youâ€™ll have it.
ONCE AGAIN…I have called Amazon customer service to complain about what is becoming a regular occurrence. I am a Prime member, which is supposed to guarantee delivery in two days. BUT…Amazon sends the package “UPS SurePost,” which hands the package to the Post Office, which delivers it whenever they damn well feel like it.
The customer service person tells me that they’ve been receiving a lot of complaints about this. Good. Now I understand when something gets delayed by fate, hand of God, hurricane, whatever. I get that. And as it happens I don’t need the package today. That’s not the issue. The issue is that I’m paying $80 a year (recently bumped to $100, but I’ll be canceling before it renews) for a service Amazon is specifically NOT PROVIDING when they hand the package off to an outfit that doesn’t guarantee delivery in a specified time frame.
Can someone say “class action?” I mean really…I’m not one to get all legal on someone’s ass, but if a multinational corporation is ripping off hundreds of thousands of people by regularly not providing a service they specifically paid for, and it’s not a rare accident but corporate policy, what alternative is there?
I urge anyone and everyone runs into this issue to call Amazon and complain every time it occurs. Their customer service number is (866) 216-1072. If Amazon won’t listen to a soloist, maybe they’ll listen to the choir.
We are all unique. But most of us spend our lives as a cluster of dots on a graph, never entirely overlapping with anyone else, never really drifting free from the crowd.
Then there are the outliers: the folks who offer beauty and fire and sadness and insanity. The flowers in the garden. They reinforce our individuality by emphasizing their own. They take the pavement we give them and shade it with haystacks and sunflowers. They take the road and give it a place to go.
Beyond the outliers was Robin Williams.
This is what happens when DenBob and I get giddy in his back yard.
The world is snow.
It has always been this way, and no one remembers a time when there was no snow. If all the snow were subtracted from the world, there would be nothing. Nothing but a beating heart yearning for snow. Snow is our essence. It is our fiber. It surrounds us, sustains us, mothers us, and overwhelms us. It grants us life. It steals our hopes, our dreams, our desires, and replaces them with snow.
And yet, I shoveled my walk.
The opening synthesizer riff of â€œWonderful Christmastime,â€ symbolic of the songâ€™s late-â€˜70s production era in the same way air raid sirens are symbolic of World War II, serves as kind of an early warning signal: â€œchange the station,â€ it calls out. â€œChange the station before Paul lets us know that â€˜the moon is right.â€™â€ And we do. Yet radio keeps playing it and shopping malls slather us in its goo as if doing so isnâ€™t just one more excuse to shop online.
It would be shocking, really, to consider that the guy who gave us â€œLive and Let Dieâ€ and â€œMaybe Iâ€™m Amazedâ€â€”and who was at least 25 percent of The Beatlesâ€”managed to scribble out, record, and actually release a song containing such lyrical damage as â€œThe choir of children sing their song / ding dong, ding dong / ding dong, ding / ohhhh / ohhhhhhh,â€ and the phrase â€œsimply having a wonderful Christmastimeâ€ repeated 75 times. Until, of course, you realize that Paul McCartney is the evil genius behind â€œLet â€˜Em Inâ€ and â€œSilly Love Songs.â€ He’s also the guy who stole Stevie Wonderâ€™s mojoâ€”an artistic assault with a deadly weapon from which the latter has yet to recover, three decades later.
Clearly, although Sir Paul is a Music Legend with a Ton of Talent, heâ€™s not infallible. â€œWonderful Christmastimeâ€ serves as an argument in favor of middle management, because someone expendable needs to be able to tell the cash cow, â€œNo.â€
A friend of mine who is also an NRA member once asked me, “If all your neighbors had guns, wouldn’t you feel safer?
I laughed out loud at the thought. Everyone in my neighborhood could kill me at a distance and that’s supposed to make me feel safer? I don’t think so. Beating each other with fists seems much more civilized, and I’d rather nurse a black eye in a pub than bleed out in the emergency room.
Don’t think I’ll ever understand the gun thing. And you know what? I’m fine with that.