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America - She Ain’t What She Used to Be
"Elections are held in November so we can decide which turkey to pick." - The cartoon character Maxine
The older I become, the less gladly I suffer fools. An extreme example of silliness occurred during the Mississippi River flood. "The river is a dangerous broth of various chemicals," pronounced reporters dressed in waders who were slogging around in the water. Duh! How stupid was that? Did this add to our knowledge? Some people have walnut shells for brains. Why would they do such a thing? Image, that's why. Image, rather than substance, is driving the media to new heights of stupidity.
The wading reporters amused us. However, there's nothing funny about this political season - surely the longest and silliest in history. Even I - a political junkie - am bummed out with all the pontificating, pandering, posturing, carping, sniping, flip-flopping, finger-pointing, nit-picking, hype and just plain falsehood. I'm also fed up with the media puffinguts who talk over the candidates' speeches.
I wish they'd just get it over with and put me out of my misery. All right already! For God's sake, elect someone, and I'll do my best to be a supportive citizen. Meanwhile, I'm pouting since neither of the candidates whom I favored was chosen.
Here's an example of image manipulation. During the same program, one candidate's change of mind on an issue was called "flip-flopping" while his opponent's change was called "an evolution in his thought." Image ad nauseum such as the serious commentary about McCain's backdrop; and "I see that Barack's tie and Hilary's pantsuit are both blue," pronounced by a reporter during their kiss-and-make-up appearance.
Why such trivia? Are we evading the reality that there are no easy answers or quick fixes. I sincerely pity the next president who will have to deal with a society that wants instant gratification without sacrificing or paying for it and a Congress that won't compromise.
When I was a girl, I spent many summer evenings on the front porch with my parents. Swinging gently, they'd talk about whatever struck their fancy - books, politics, the good and bad old days or the news.
"Well, here we are already at the fourth of July." "You know, Earl, I was thinking. Even though we had the depression and the war, we're pretty lucky here in America." "You're right about that. Sometimes I wonder how they beat the English. And then to come up with the system of government that we have. I was reading an article about George Washington that said that they even offered him the chance to be king, and he turned it down." ... "I shudder when I think about that picture that Orville (Jones) took of the starving people when they liberated a little concentration camp and wonder what it would've been like if we'd lost." . . .
"The birthday of a new world is at hand." - Thomas Paine, from Common Sense (January 1776) The American Revolution was more than the military defeat of the world's greatest power. It was the triumph of fresh ideas and of a spirit of compromise, that today's politicians don't have.
When I was a girl everyone learned about Paul Revere's ride, the barefoot soldiers during the terrible winter at Valley Forge, the crossing of the Delaware River, the patriotism of the people and the wisdom of the leaders of the Revolution whom we envisioned as saints.
The reality was more complex, according to David McCullough’s fine biography of John Adams. "We were about one third Tories, and one third timid, and one third true blue," the book quoted Adams as saying.
There were bitter arguments during the Continental Congress. One of the most popular delegates was John Dickinson, who opposed independence and argued so vehemently with Adams that they quit speaking. He threatened to lead his supporters into breaking away from the |Congress. Others also shunned Adams.
Then the publication of Common Sense aroused the members of Congress, and Dickinson became unpopular. He refused to vote for independence, but absented himself from the voting so that Congress would speak with one voice. Even though he was ill and exhausted, he rode off at the head of the first troops to march out of Philadelphia.
And these days? These days movie stars swear they'll leave America if their candidate doesn't win. (Let them go, say I!) Others puff that they're going to take back America. Not from me, they won't!
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