A Cockeyed Vision of the Future

I voted in the Democratic Primary on March 10th 2020 in Boise, Idaho at my local polling facility – All Saints Episcopal Church. It was a crisp cold Tuesday morning and I had the pleasure and privilege of walking the two blocks to my assigned polling place. Over the last thirty years that I’ve lived in Idaho, I’ve been able to breeze through my neighborhood polling facility in wunderfun fashion. I’m one of the lucky ones. Others are not so lucky.

Jimmy Carter 1976 MHCC
Image from Past Tense Oregon: Presidents Oregonlive.com

My first presidential election was in 1976. I voted for Jimmy Carter. He came to visit us at Mount Hood Community College in Oregon in 1978. I couldn’t get through the crowd to shake his hand. Instead, I jumped on a bench and looked over the heads of the students and watched him talk to people and shake their hands. In my twenty-two years, I had witnessed via television: three assassinations of good kind men of conscience and the seemingly never-ending war in Vietnam.

When Jimmy Carter came to our community college, we were all hopeful and I thought our generation would change the world. Instead, like children of narcissistic and sociopathic parents my generation turned inward, we used self-soothing with drugs and alcohol and cigarettes to deaden our pain. Like so many other young people of my generation we were sick of all the deaths and uncertainty in the country. We were ready for a change and excited to meet a man who wasn’t a crook. We were right about Jimmy Carter; he was a good man back then and continues to be a good kind man today.

It’s only now, during this pandemic that I realize my generation was in for many more shocks in the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning with Nixon and his statement, “I’m not a crook,” we’ve had crooks coming out of every orifice of the body politic for forty years. Now, in the 21st century, we have a whole gang of crooks in the current administration, eager to prey upon us all. The pandemic will give them an excuse to pillage the coffers of the government and make off with millions while the rest of us starve and die.

Fair Vote 2020
Image by K McVere LLC

Hold on, Kelley. Remember you are a cockeyed optimist. There’s got to be something someone can do to stem the rot. Oh, yeah! VOTE. Vote as if your life depends upon the outcome. BECAUSE YOUR LIFE DOES. Stop self-soothing, put your doobie down and vote. I’m going to vote. I’m still a cockeyed optimist.

In 2016, I experienced a sip of what other people endure all the time, when I had to wait in a seemingly never-ending line for hours and hours, just to choose my favorite presidential candidate during the Idaho Democratic Caucus. I had no idea that 10,000 people would show up to choose between Hillary and Bernie. We waited for hours in a line that snaked up and down and around downtown Boise.

Last year, I dreaded the idea of having to repeat that experience once again for the 2020 primary. I imagined another idiotic queue where young and old and middle-aged waited until dark in the cold wind to choose their candidate for president. It was refreshing to learn voters would not have to go through that grueling process. Crowds are fabulous for the young and able. For the rest of us, us older folks, crowds and standing in long lines for hours – not so much fun. There were people my age who gave up their spots in line and just walked away. What a shame. Even though I’m not a big fan of crowds, I loved seeing the Bernie dolls and talking to the young people.

My best friend is my eldest son’s age and I stood beside her. Her mother joined us. By the time we got to the tents where we showed our photo identification and chose our Democratic candidate for president the day had ended, and evening was upon us. After filling out the slip of paper, we were told where to sit in the CenturyLink Arena. Bernie voters were told to sit down on the floor where plastic chairs had been placed in neat rows. During Steelhead hockey games the floor of the arena is an ice rink.

hockey players playing inside a rink
Photo by Lynda Sanchez on Pexels.com

While sitting with my friends in the spot where a Zamboni could have flattened us like ants, I flashed back to my youth when I loved to watch the Minnesota North Stars on television. I remembered the one and only time I went to a live game with a date. As a teenager I was too insecure to wear my glasses, so during the entire game all I saw was a blur of green, yellow and gold. For sure, I could hear them, hear their bodies slamming into the boards and glass shields, hear the shouts and insults from the fans, smell the beer and chili dogs.

Sadly, I lost touch with the game of hockey, only rekindling my love of hockey decades later when I noticed Netflix offered Miracle on Ice. I added the movie to my list and a few weeks later found myself on the edge of my seat throwing my fists in the air at every Team USA goal. If anyone had seen me, in my living room, by myself, jumping to my feet and cheering like a madwoman, they would have taken me away in the paddy wagon for sure. Strange to juxtapose the 1980 U.S. Olympic team beating the Russians with all the current hype from MSNBC about Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

If you believe cable news, Fox News included, Americans are still living through the Cold War, which makes me wonder if cable news exists in a perpetual state of amnesia or the cable news network has another motive. Do they foment discord, to the detriment of democracy, just for a few bucks? Or do they have another motive?

Are they instead doing the bidding of the morbidly rich in order to divide us? You know what happened when the poor rose up against their oppressors in the past? Maybe networks are using the playbook of psychological warfare against us? Perhaps like violent parents threatening us periodically or imprisoning us when we speak out, the media working along with the political apparatus is attempting to create a generation of sheep, a generation, who after experiencing learned-helplessness become subservient to the government or the power elite whenever there is a crisis.

My ruminations are based on what came after the 2016 Idaho Democratic Caucus and our current pandemic. To be fair I want to go back to that evening and remind myself why I’m still convinced we are repeating history and many of us are experiencing amnesia. On that evening in March of 2016, I sat in the Zamboni area excited and full of hope. While I waited, I noticed children among the voters and many people recording the historic moment on their smart phones.

photo of people holding their smartphones
Photo by Harrison Haines on Pexels.com

As minutes crawled by and we waited for the last of the voters to enter the arena, my friends and I took pictures of each other and the crowd with our cellphones. We were so optimistic back then, so excited about a resurrection of FDR’s New Deal. I took pictures of the people sitting in the seats on the 2nd and 3rd floors referred to by CenturyLink Arena’s website as Sports Zone. The Sports Zone is where hockey fans sit for games. That’s where the Hillary voters were told to sit. My cellphone used to take fabulous pictures, but the battery was getting old. Once I got home, I looked through them disappointed; my pictures were blurry.

I blamed the glaring lights for my blurry pictures and wondered how the Steelheads felt about those hot lights beating down on them. It was a relief when the lights dimmed, and a huge screen descended. We got to watch the candidates pitch their ideas about how to govern the country. When Bernie appeared on the screen the applause from the Zamboni area was deafening. We listened as Bernie talked about inequality, corruption and never-ending wars, topics some of us were hearing for the first time. His honesty and earnestness appealed to me and my friends.

audience auditorium bleachers chairs
Photo by Tuur Tisseghem on Pexels.com

I learned later that there were a few coworkers sitting up in the Sports Zones’ 2nd and 3rd floor seats above me. At work the next day several of them shared their stories about waiting in line and their fears for the future of our country. One young woman even mentioned how if the Republican candidate didn’t win, Republicans were threatening to go to war with Democrats. Threatening neighbors with violence reminded me of Hitler and his Brown Shirt tactics in the 1930s, how they terrorized their neighbors into submission.

Well, her words turned out to be prescient with the horrors of Charlottesville and the man who drove the Dodge Challenger injuring so many and creating fear worldwide. The man who mowed down innocent people, crippling and traumatizing many, and murdering a lovely young woman, Heather Heyer, received his punishment, but at what cost have these attempts to foment fear and hostility between us damaged our democracy? Charlottesville was in the future though. At the time of the Idaho Democratic Caucus we were all excited and eager and hopeful.

The Zamboni voters were all energized by the crowd and the newness of the moment, optimistically looking forward to a Democratic win. Bernie won the 2016 Idaho Democratic Caucus. For me and I’m sure for all the rest of the Bernie voters, it was a shock when Hillary became the Democratic candidate for president. I accepted the party’s choice and held my nose and voted for her in November. I’d always hoped one day we would have a female president. She wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Yes, she’s got the intelligence, experience, and competence to make a good president, more so than the current idiot in the White House. Yes, she’s got strength of character.

alcohol bottles celebration color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And no, she doesn’t have to be someone I’d want to have a beer with, that is the dumbest reason to choose a president. Would you want Alan Garner from the Hangover or Inspector Clouseau from The Pink Panther as your president? How about Leslie Nielsen as Dr. Rumack from Airplane! making critical decisions that affect you and the world? Sad to say, our current picks for president all remind me of Leslie Nielsen’s character.

Only one, Bernie Sanders, has the moral and mental capacity to govern America. The other two, Biden and Trump, will end up, while in office, getting older and older with their mental faculties declining seriously, so much so, that I can imagine both sitting in their wheelchairs, mouths open, a bit of dribble glistening in the corners, as their staff beg them to make a critical decision.

And that hellish scenario encompasses only mundane decisions asked of them, what about when the next pandemic strikes or the economy tanks, what will they do then? Instead of focusing on the crisis, will they reminisce about an imaginary time when they displayed business acumen or personal courage? Oh, Holy Mother Earth, save us, from old men with delusions of grandeur!

Fair Vote 2020
Image by K McVere LLC

Hold on, Kelley. Remember you are a cockeyed optimist. There’s got to be something someone can do to stem the rot. Oh, yeah! VOTE. Vote as if your life depends upon the outcome. BECAUSE YOUR LIFE DOES. Stop self-soothing, put your doobie down and vote. I’m going to vote. I’m still a cockeyed optimist.

Who should I blame for where we are now? Many young people are blaming the Baby Boomer generation for our current situation. Well, I’m a Baby Boomer and I thought I was doing enough by just voting every election and choosing a Democrat every time. I was naïve. Even college didn’t cure me of my naivete. Even with evidence all around me that the Democratic Party had lost its way, I still chose to trust in the democratic process.

Now. Now, I’m not as naïve. Now, I mistrust the media and many politicians, especially the ones who’ve spent more than three terms in office and done nothing for their constituents. Sure. There are a few freethinking politicians who’ve worked tirelessly for their constituents for decades. Tragically, those courageous people are few and far between.

brown and white vultures standing on grass field in close up photography during daytime
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

Instead, Washington D.C.  swarms with lobbyists, the morbidly rich eager for handouts, sociopaths dipping into campaign money who take a chance they’ll serve only a few months in jail, and a malevolent narcissist whose daily fix is the adulation of an adoring crowd. No wonder when polled, Americans compare politicians to lice and cockroaches. Our species has had a low opinion of politicians since the Greeks and Romans. Forget them, I want to know who I can trust now. I want the facts, not opinions.

battle black blur board game
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If Bernie Sanders isn’t chosen as the Democratic nominee and “Republican Lite” Joe Biden is stuffed down our gizzards, progressive Democrats are going to have to work even harder to bring our country back from extinction. We are dealing with a pandemic and a recession and I fear one day we are going to look more like France before Bastille Day. It took decades of grinding poverty and injustice before the French chose to fight back against the morbidly rich and criminally stupid who enabled a fat King to take food out of the mouths of children. Starving your people and imprisoning dissenters is a recipe for disaster and that’s where America seems to be headed.

Fair Vote 2020
Image by K McVere LLC

Hold on, Kelley. Remember you are a cockeyed optimist. There’s got to be something someone can do to stem the rot. Oh, yeah! VOTE. Vote as if your life depends upon the outcome. BECAUSE YOUR LIFE DOES. Stop self-soothing, put your doobie down and vote. I’m going to vote. I’m still a cockeyed optimist.

On a lighter note: I finally finished watching the third season of Stargate Atlantis and love Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa even more. I could happily imagine Momoa or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) as future presidents. They’d be a helluva lot better than the choices we have today. I doubt Momoa would even want the headache. Still? You never know. Maybe the only way we can get the younger generation to put down their doobies and vote is to have them vote for a social media wunderkind.

 

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