I’ve been off WordPress for some time, working on a book (completion date December 2022).
Given the importance of these midterms, I wanted to offer a few thoughts and a last minute plea to get out the vote. It resurfaces my thoughts from a 2020 post, refreshed for the 2022 midterms.
“I’m not going to vote. There’s too much anger.” I stared unblinking at the barista at my local coffee shop who was responding to the “I Voted” sticker on my shirt. I sighed and put down my cappuccino as the cup started to rattle as my blood pressure surged to a volcanic intensity.
Waking up every day to echoes of Trump and the clown show of pandering politicians left in his wake has become the psychological (emphasis on “psycho”) and moral equivalent to living on the ground floor of a two-story outhouse. Every day I feel as if I have to shovel my way out from under a relentless discharge of lies, racist rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan vitriol as forced birthers and big lie supporters continually sodomize what’s left of our democracy. As a sixty-four year old white male, it wears me down, leaving me demoralized, depressed and exhausted.
Reeling most recently from the GOP’s brutal suppression of women’s rights, their unfounded support of the Big Lie, dismissal of the January 6th insurrection, inaction against antisemitism, and their staggering callousness toward the brutal beating of Paul Pelosi, I reminded myself that “exhausting” is what it’s designed to be. The relentless diarrhetic flaunting of norms, morals, facts, truth, empathy, and reason is designed to distract and exhaust us and local baristas to the point of submission. The hope is that we implode under the weight of the maelstrom of misinformation, and weakly sputter a few final tweets and Facebook rants like death rattles.
The specter of this epiphany rose like the political career of Herschel Walker as I addressed my barista friend and delivered to him a gently controlled tirade drawing from one of my infamous monologues in the days prior to the 2020 presidential election. In that instance, I had walked past a 50-something acquaintance at the gym who was holding court with a small group of men in the locker room. As I walked by, I heard him say, “I don’t talk politics anymore. There’s nothing you can do.”
After a stunned pause, and just a decibel or two under a shout I said, “VOTE! FOR GOD’s SAKE VOTE!” with the intensity and urgency of someone shouting “GET DOWN!” during a shootout.
The impact of my comment was oddly amplified, no doubt, by the fact I was naked, having just gotten out of the shower. But the thought that the GOP’s venom was numbing the minds and wills of reasonable people chilled me to the extent I was willing to act first and put on pants later.
I continued my au naturel diatribe insisting that he take action in some form, and if given the opportunity, kick anyone’s lethargic ass who had grown too weary to fight. I rambled a bit at that point referencing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mandela, soldiers who fought Nazi’s in WWII, and all the sacrifices they had to endure for the sake of our Democracy. I may even have brought up Redcoats and the whole “give me liberty or give me death” thing. I emphasized that by contrast, we barely have to get out of bed.
Register. Drive to a polling place. Mark a few boxes. Tell a friend. That’s it. Even for a generation perpetually glued to screens and remotes, that’s not a big ask. Confident I had won my fellow gym goers over, I reached into my locker and grabbed my pants. When I turned back, everyone had gone. They must have been late for work or were perhaps rushing out to get to their polling place.
It is exhausting, no doubt. But not as exhausting as spending 27 years in a South African prison or making your way across 100 yards of sand at Omaha Beach. Draw on the outrage of the Supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the fomenting of an insurrection, a social awakening triggered by the murder of George Floyd.
“Silence is acquiescence,” I concluded, at which point the barista, who had taken a step or two back from the counter said he hadn’t gotten around to registering to vote and that I owed him $4.50.
Wipe the malaise off the wounded and the clear thinking, and drag them to the polls. Vote. Make a difference. Put on pants, put down the remote, and make America sane again.