Another Tuesday election cycle…another depressing, weary Wednesday.
I watched the election results from around the country coming in last night, and it was just one soul-sucking thing after another:
- Indiana senator Richard Lugar (R-Paleolithic Era) was unseated after 35 years in Washington. Normally I wouldn’t cry about a Republican being ousted, and there is reason to believe that the man who beat him in yesterday’s primary, Richard Mourdock, could fare poorly in the general election, therefore creating a possibility of this Senate seat being filled by a Democrat for the first time in decades. Still, Lugar’s career has been marked by moderation and bi-partisan cooperation. Much like recently resigned Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, Lugar represents an old-school, reaching across the aisle, results-oriented approach to governing. The fact that this was actually looked upon as a negative thing, and that he was beaten this time out by a man who is the Tea Party favorite, says a lot about the way voters on the right are thinking nowadays. Lugar’s defeat is another by-product of the growing ideological zealotry of American conservatives, and I was not all that happy to see the result.
- In West Virginia, a convicted felon who is currently serving time in prison still managed to receive 41% of the votes in the Democratic primary yesterday. Let’s think about that for a second. This means that 49,490 people in the state of West Virgina thought it was worth their time to show up and cast a ballot for a criminal who has ZERO chance of receiving delegates, or proceeding in any other way, during this presidential contest. Our president is mighty unpopular in that state, mainly due to his stance on the coal industry, but damn. You have got to be a particularly ridiculous individual to show up at the polls just to vote for an incarcerated felon.
- And then we had North Carolina, which lived up to my extremely low expectations and voted for Amendment 1, which will ban legal recognition and protection for gay marriage, or for ANY civil union or domestic partnership. From now on, only heterosexual marriages will receive legal status in North Carolina.
As if the election results didn’t give me enough to get disgusted about on their own, yesterday’s news also included Republican lawmakers in the Senate blocking a bill which would have prevented current interest rates on student loans from doubling on July 1; Mitt Romney attempting to BS the voting public yet again by trying to claim credit for the successful bailout of the US auto industry; the death of a truly great author, illustrator and thinker – Maurice Sendak, and Texas Representative Joe Barton, who gave a mind-numbingly convoluted interview yesterday, in which he attempted to justify his support for proposed budgetary cuts for Meals on Wheels programs for elderly people, and school lunches and health care coverage for low-income children. These cuts, by the way, are being proposed in order to offset cuts to military spending, which the GOP just cannot abide. But when asked if there couldn’t instead be some sort of minimal tax increase on the super-rich to offset these military cuts, Barton is adamant that this should not happen – because as we all know, the GOP can’t abide taxes on millionaires, either. It’s a clip that has to be seen to be believed:
As you may imagine, I was in one hell of a bad mood by the time I went to bed last night.
It’s sometimes difficult for me to know how to handle the state of things in this country. I believe, strongly, that we all have an obligation to be informed and aware. It’s a patriotic duty to know what’s going on in our government and in our communities. Being ignorant is never good, but being willfully ignorant is the absolute worst.
At the same time, I realize how overwhelmingly awful it is to actually pay attention, and see what goes on in this country, and care about it all. Some days, like yesterday for example, it truly sucks to be an informed citizen. I mean, it sucks hard.
I sometimes get to the point where I just assume things are bad, and that they’re gonna get worse, and that there is nothing I can do about it. There’s a genuine, palpable sense of resignation that comes over me once in a while, when I’m faced with some rotten realities and not a lot of positive news to balance it out. I start wondering why I should bother when I look as far down toward the end of the tunnel as I can, and all I see is darkness.
But wouldn’t you know it – just when I think it’s never going to appear, a little crack opens up and the light starts filtering through it.
This morning, my kid asked if she could print up something that she’d created on our PC and bring it to school. She had learned about the expanding masses of floating trash that have formed in the Pacific Ocean, and she was absolutely livid about it. As a way of expressing her concern, she made up a little flyer regarding environmental awareness, and she planned to hand it out to her fellow students. I asked if I could look it over, and here’s what I saw:
You gotta believe I was grinning a mile wide after reading that.
Now, I told her she’d need to get the OK from her teachers before she handed anything out at school. I also made the editorial decision to recommend changing the part about “you freaking idiot people” to something less, shall we say, inflammatory.
But in reality, that freaking kid made me freaking proud. She’s interested in what goes on in this world, and the bad things aren’t depressing her. They’re making her mad as hell, and you bet your ass she’s not going to take it anymore.
This episode was a well-timed reminder that it might not be fun to focus on the problems we face in America, but that the alternative – not giving a shit – is way worse. If my political and social concerns and habits have in any way served as a model for my kid, and she goes on to try and change things for her own generation, I know all the frustration I sometimes experience is worth it after all.