Friday, October 26, 2012


I have the unenviable happiness of having voted for every winning president since I first began to vote.  No, even before that.  Since I was first aware of presidents, I have chosen the winners.  If that's what you can call that gallery of successful candidates to the American presidency.  I don't know what this says about me politically.  That I am tuned into the wider national vibe?  That I can whiff out the scent of rising power?

Maybe I am just the bellwether"indistinguishable from the rest of the flock, only a little greedier, a little faster, a little hungrier, a little ahead of the flock."   Or as Kirkus Reviews puts it, "while seeming totally incompetent, unknowingly acts as a human bellwether, causing fads and trends to crystallize around her as she lurches chaotically through life."

I like to think I weigh my decision carefully, as if the fate of the nation waited on my choice.  I like to think I look beyond party lines, look beyond putting someone just like me in office. (I wouldn't want someone just like me in office.  Too much would never get done.)  I like to think all my reading of the news, watching the economy, watching different economies, keeping abreast of local and world events helps me to focus not on one or two pet political projects but on what our country widely needs for these particular next four years.

Sometimes though, my choice is just disgust at one incumbent I can't respect only to vote in another candidate I can't admire and when I vow next time to vote for anybody else but the best the other party can come up with is John Kerry.

But the president, every year of my adult life, has always been my president because I have voted for him.  His stupidities a personal shame to me, his abuses of office a personal affront. Occasionally, his sparks of wit or prudence, my personal satisfaction or glee. But always, I have felt, that the president has been my president, the best of a bad choice maybe, but the choice I made as a voice in America. 

About one candidate's response in the recent presidential debates, a friend said,
Except, MJ, he kept going on and on and it became more obvious that it was an over-thought answer and not one that came naturally. He was digging an ever deeper hole. Especially when he said that he needed to be flexible fore a women who needed to get back home because she wanted to be home to make dinner for her family (maybe she did, but it would have been better to say she wanted to get back to *spend* dinnertime with family) . . .
I can't disagree.  So much about this election, as so many elections, makes me sad. 

But a choice must be made.  This month I've been trying to retrain myself to a more natural rhythm of work and sleep.  To sleep when it is night, to attend the sunsets, I have had to give up some goings, I have had to stop -- midstream -- some doings.  Important doings and goings.  But I only have so many hours and if I keep pushing into the night, into the red in October, I have learned I pay in February with my annual bout of pneumonia.  Something in me has learned this month to acknowledge that everything takes time, takes resource, though we live in a society that is blind to the time-cost for most of our daily needs.  Cooking -- what a fun thing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Growing a vegetable garden -- what a great hobby!  We are all far too blind to the work someone somewhere is putting in to get food into our family's bellies. 

I do wish we had a candidate who assumed everyone, male and female, needed to get home to make dinner.  But it isn't offending me, as it seems to be so many other Americans, to hear someone publicly assign value to the actual making of dinner, the labor, the work, the prior preparation, the sacrifice of time and other forms of ambition.  There is something in me that resonates more with the straightforward utility of "be home to make dinner for her family," than with the politically correct warm fuzzies of "spending dinnertime together."

There are other reasons to vote for or against our two present candidates.

To my eye, they are both intelligent and talented.  Both more willing to put themselves on the line trying to get solutions into our nation's problems than most of us have shown ourselves.

This is the year I think I may break my string of successful picks.  But I've decided the president will still be my president.  Still accountable to me and my vote, still worthy of my not uncritical support.

Go vote.  Be a voice for America. 

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