Barack, We Hardly Knew Ye

In the past week, I had the very same conversation with friends of various political stripes, and the oddest thing happened each time. No one yelled, no one’s eye bulged out in hostility. Everyone agreed. The firebrand lefty, the well-heeled retiree, the young urban professional all agreed. It was so peaceful and collaborative. And rare.
The topic? The fact that in November we will vote on which of two accusatory, mean-spirited, and purely partisan men should become our president. (Oh, Barack, we hardly knew ye.)
We will also vote on a number of their bullying henchmen (and women, I’m embarrassed to say), to determine who of them should be allowed to stay in Washington DC to pad their pensions and further entrench themselves into the legislative swamp, anticipating eventual juicy jobs among the swarms of lobbyists indigenous to the area. Also, there will be a few strays running to take over for the few Congresspeople who did not volunteer to return, mostly because they died.
What we agreed upon is that we have had enough with this divisive, toxic partisan climate in which office holders lower themselves into the muck to wrestle around, one trying to best the other, without a thought about what’s best for the country. It’s like a WWE match where there is supposed to be a good guy and a bad guy, but both are bad guys. They misunderstand the form. We need a good guy to cheer for, not two guys who are skulking around angling for the next cheap shot.
Perhaps those of us who agree need to do more than vote. Maybe we are not thinking big enough. If we could only figure out how to vote on some things without involving the above self-serving office holders:
We could institute term limits that would allow these folks to stay only long enough to carry out whatever good ideas they actually have when they get there, and then go back where they came from before they get a chance to dedicate their energies to making a career of it.
Or we could just end their terms early by proclamation, and give their jobs to some worthy individuals, like the MacArthur Grant geniuses, or recent high school valedictorians.
And we could require that they actually have good ideas. Maybe along with the nominating petitions they have to file in order to appear on the ballot, they would have to submit their actual plans about how to make things better. Then we could all just read them rather than hearing them sliced and diced by ratings-hungry TV pundits.
While we are at it, we could require them to get by on the same health care plan that they voted on for the rest of us. And go by work rules like explaining yourself if you are absent for, say, a month or two. We are paying their salaries after all.
If we really wanted to go wild, we could vote to levy hefty fines for each sleazy, lying attack ad and for every political robocall that interrupts us while we are innocently going about our daily business. Does anyone ever change their loyalties when interrupted in midsentence by a zealot and/or fundraiser? No, never mind. Zealots and money-raisers have their rights too.
For the other ideas, this is Chicago. Someone ought to know something about tweaking voting booths. Put these on the ballot and we might smell some change in the air instead of the stench of the swamp


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  • Well, we can't do any of this. It is sort of like the yoga instructor saying "you could touch your big toe" while bending backwards. At some point, I realized that there must be a reason why she phrases most things in the subjunctive.

    I mentioned elsewhere that in connection with Putin, The Economist magazine said that politicians trying to entrench themselves don't need to stuff the ballot box, there are gerrymandering (which they did attribute to the U.S.), legal challenges to opposition candidates, and poisoning the media atmosphere. Sure sounds like Chicago to me.

    And, unlike last election, Obama doesn't have Emanuel this time around. At least be glad you're not in Syria.

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