Thursday, November 10, 2016

Two Mornings After

I feel compelled to say something here about what happened in this country on Tuesday.   Everybody else has.  It was an Election Day like no other.  But, let's first embrace the notion that we can have an Election Day at all.  I mean, there are countries in this world who change leaders not with votes, but rifles.   After all is said and done, America is still better than that.

President Obama yesterday essentially acknowledged that the democracy we enjoy is a very messy business.   Sticky and gooey and it gets on our clothes. But it is a very special freedom that was won for us by many of the veterans we all will hopefully remember tomorrow on their very special day.  Obama says that democracy and the leadership changes that necessarily and organically results gives us a national history that zig zags through our time.   The man was never more correct.

If you look at American history and, in particular, the Presidential end of it, you will discover that we usually shift course every eight years or so.  It is very, very rare for one political party to be in the White House for longer than that at any one time.   The most notable exceptions would be FDR with his four terms prompted largely by the ongoing World War II and the first George Bush who piggybacked a bit on Ronald Reagan's tenure.   But, otherwise, it's almost like the United States and the voting electorate look to hit the reset button on a regular basis.

I mean, remember video arcades in the 80s?   You'd come with a fistful of quarters that you would plop down on the machine of your choice.   You'd own it for a while.   You'd try to run up as high a score as possible, but, eventually, you ran out of coins.  In would come the next hopeful with his or her fistful of quarters.

The office of the US President is sort of like that.  You'd have to dig into the history of those leaders over the past century to appreciate that comparison.   Each comes in with his fistful of quarters and they always think they can get the score higher than anybody else.  Of course, usually not.   

Look at each and every President since 1900.   They all come in and fix some things.   And ultimately break some things as well.  The goal is for each of them to fix more things than they break.   I'd have to say that, in my humble opinion, the last two (Obama and Bush 2) broke more things than they fixed.   Going back, you can flip it for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.   Their legacy was a plus in the fixing side of the ledger.

But they're all there and they all have their challenges.  Yet, the good news is that all are there because of a prevailing mood and tenor in the country and this changes all the time.  They all come into office because of the general mindset of the nation at that very moment.   It's very much serendipity for each and every one of them.

A very good friend of mine actually predicted to me what would happen on November 8  last July.  He suggested back then that there was a whole group of people in this land who were angry.   After the economic collapse of 2007-08, these folks watched auto industries and banks and executives get their bail outs.  But the factory worker in Bumfuk, Iowa did not.   He lost his home, his health care, and his job.  My buddy opined that those people would raise their hands.

And so they did.   They sent a message.   Likely, it was through the wrong messenger, but it was a message sent nonetheless.  The astounding part of this is that nobody saw it coming.   Not through polls or the media.   It's remarkable that, in this age of over information, a very key piece of it was missing.

I announced here on Election Day that I was very reluctantly abstaining from my vote for President.  Oh, I blackened my boxes for all the under card candidates and propositions.   But I could not vouch for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most incredibly flawed Presidential candidates ever.  This would be the first time I ever did this.  Yes, in the past, I have voted for both Republican and Democratic candidates for Chief Executive.   So, I do have an open mind.   And that illustrates just how strongly I felt about my abstention.  

Folks around me did vote vociferously and I salute their passion on both sides of the aisle.  Social media has stoked this fire even further.  I see wars on Facebook.   I see friendships ending.   I see empty seats at Thanksgiving tables. People ridiculously vowing to leave the country. That should not be the end game here.   We are all better than that.   We have been for 240 years strong. This anger needs to subside.   At times, this country appears manic-depressive and bi-polar with no lithium tablets available to take twice daily. 

In my own world, I have friends who voted for Hillary.  They are not as would be portrayed by some as "screwball, Commie-pinko, socialists."   I have friends who voted for Donald.   There's not a pedophile, sexual abuser, or racist among them.   They're all my friends.  With voices that were heard. 

Somehow, from this past Election Day, we need to keep these very voices strong yet mannered.  We need to gather in the middle of the field and not stay on the sidelines.  We must understand that each and every President will fix a few things and break a few things with the knowledge that there's yet another reset button in the future.  

It's the taffy pull we call democracy.  The goal is to keep pulling and stretching without breaking it.   Others have done it before.  We can do it again.  Because each and every one of us is the Chief Executive of our own individual lives.   

Dinner last night:  Leftover Chinese beef and vegetables.

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