A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Turn Those Rascals In

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for this election to be over. Remember how much fun 2008 was? That's how much I've hated every second of this race. I've seen a lot in my time, including wars, riots, assassinations and terrorist attacks. But never before have I seen the face peeled off human nature to reveal the dark, ugly, hatred underneath.
We are now at a point where the nation is divided into two halves – each convinced that a victory for the other side will mean the death of the Republic. Doesn't make the chance of compromise after the election very promising, does it?
We are devolving into a tribal society like Northern Ireland or the Middle East. Both sides are arguing from different assumptions and different sets of "facts." And both sides lovingly nurse their own grievances, forgetting nothing and learning nothing.
Don't get me wrong: There has never been a Golden Age when Americans weren't at each other's throats. Even during World War II, which we look back on as the last time when the country really pulled together, there were race riots and labor strife, as well as the internment of more than 110,000 American citizens of Japanese descent.
But not since the Civil War has there been a time when Americans looked on other Americans as the enemy – until now. There are Americans who hate the other party more than they hate Al Qaeda. And there are politicians who will gleefully stroke those hatreds with the most outrageous lies if they think it will advance their political agenda.
It's even worse than when I was young, during the McCarthy era. And I ought to know, because my home was the neighborhood polling place.
All the moms on the block were the election officials. And when the dads got off work they'd join them. My mother would order a huge platter of cold cuts from the local deli, and they'd have a ballot-counting party – two people, one Democrat and one Republican, counting the votes for each office.
Since my mother was the most liberal Democrat on the block, she'd usually be paired up with Mr. Gerry, the most conservative Republican. They never voted the same in partisan races, but did that make them hate each other? No.
I never heard my parents call the Gerrys the enemy, and they never thought of us that way, either.
And when it came to non-partisan elections, like the local school board race, we and the Gerrys always worked together on the same side.
Is it too much to ask why we can't be that way again?
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 So whom should you vote for? Remember the old adage: Follow the money.
Log on to maplight.org – run by a nonpartisan Berkeley nonprofit - and you can view silhouettes of Romney and Obama with the names of their corporate sponsors plastered on their clothes like NASCAR drivers, as well as who's funding candidates in state, local and national races.
To find out who's bankrolling state and local ballot measures, visit votersedge.org.
And if you log on to politicash.co, you can download an app that will let you do all these things on your iPhone, iPad or Android.
Don't forget: He who pays the piper calls the tune.