WELL, ACTUALLY . . .

WELL, ACTUALLY . . .

If you have a brain full of facts, trivia, observations, pictures, miscellany, garbage, etc., simply because you stuff it as full as it will get with these things, you are like me.  Finding new things, observing odd things, sorting out details, Hoovering up all you come across, that’s how I have always operated. The idea of going to SCHOOL, when I was three and four and suddenly aware that that was where my brother was every day, was absolute Disneyland for my Electrolux brain.  Note that the social aspects of going to school with other kids was an entirely different and surprising set of data, but that is for another blog post.

Having that dumpster-full head at the ready is something you then have to learn to control, or at least I did. The joy of having such a possession leads to sharing, like a new car or a promotion, and it is not always the thing people most want from you. This may seem obvious to neurotypical people, to whom social norms come easily. Not obvious, however, to some of the rest of us who see all the dirt paths along the side of the paved highway, or the thousand windows and secret passages in a perfectly ‘normal’ room where everyone else comes and goes through the door.  

Herein is born the pedant, the know-it-all, the one who cuts into conversation with “Well, actually . .” at certain [mostly unwelcome] junctures.  

And therein is also born, hopefully, a lifetime learning curve on over-sharing. If you care about having friends, being invited places, or enjoying family gatherings, you must learn. Family has to invite you, for the most part, but it’s preferable to be wanted.

To illustrate, in law school our faculty held a seminar on the post-Soviet struggle in the then-titled Czechoslovakia to return property to families who had been disenfranchised by the communist government. From castles to artwork, no easy task.  Having spent two years living in the communist version of that country, and having absorbed a great deal about its history and its people, I was enthralled to learn from legal experts how they were going to address and right these wrongs.  The lawyers presenting the seminar gave an overview of the renewal of property rights, and offered some successes they’d had in making reparations to citizens and heirs of those affected.  My mind was exploding with ‘but what if . . .?’ and ‘but when . . .?’ questions. Surely the twists and turns of determining ownership, interpreting succession rights, separating out family disputes on who played what part in the Soviet regime, were all playing a huge part . . . you see where this is going, don’t you.  They were working in generalities, I was dancing in the weeds. Indeed, they asked for questions.  My question went down into those weeds, and of course when I could see the fading smile and deadening eyes as I tried to work my way around the complexities, I received a curt “That’s very specific, but not for our work right now.” I wasn’t going to be allowed to play in that legal sandbox. Sigh.

Refine, refine, refine. How to know when the time is right for joining the chat? Where do you rein in that feisty brain full of shit or step hard into the world of asshole-ry?

Enter social media. A few years ago a European sports correspondent whom I enjoyed and followed on Twitter gave a strong and strident reference to Americans who don’t care about any country but their own. A very cogent point. He illustrated that point by saying “All Americans who use the phrase ‘God Bless America’ are shedding hate on the rest of the world. All of them.”

Ahem.  He’s so right that any country who puts itself above all others doesn’t play well on the world stage, self-centered and selfish Americans are a plague, among other salient points.  But . . . God Bless America? I could see all those open windows, damn it. Yep, I answered, with my “Well, actually . .”  Yes, there are racists and anti-immigrant Americans who use that term and wave the flag and thereby fit that bill entirely. And there are sheltered, less-educated Americans who hate the rest of the world simply because of it’s “otherness.” But I’m here to say that this term is also used by many citizens as a wishful hope for America, or perhaps a grateful paean to the good things with which the country has been blessed. Like “Vive La France!” or “God Save the Queen!”  Not all who say “God Bless America” are meaning to say “. . and screw everyone else.”  Same reaction, of course. Angry and brutal refutation of my premise, and a scoop of scorn added to the response.  My surprise was quite real. He’d never seemed the type to paint with such a broad brush, but what I guess I hadn’t caught was it was a rant. A thrust of opinion. My point may have merit [I still think so, of course!], but it was not the moment he was open to sophistry. He blocked me.

Just last year, I was part of a group on Twitter tearing their hair out over how so many millions of people had not only voted for Trump but were still loyally defending his racism, calls for violence, and disdain for the laws. One woman stated bluntly that all white women were to blame. Since a poll showed that over 53 percent of white women supported Trump, there is no question that is a tragic number. Not just that, but this woman said it was the sole reason we had been stuck with Trump. The only reason, I asked? Yes, the answer came back quickly, and there was mass agreement and ‘likes’ hit. Oh, well actually that number was from an exit poll, and the real number analyzed from actual voter rolls was 47 percent. Also the percentage for white MEN was almost 10 percentage points higher. The response? How dare I come to “Black Twitter” and challenge their premise. Note that the avatars of the speakers did not show me their race, but mine did. Me: Wait, what? Firestorm ensues. Nobody but me is surprised. Yes, many white women were guilty Trump supporters. That was all that mattered, and I mean that sincerely. The rhetoric around that premise was important, even if it wasn’t accurate. The venting of the anger, the betrayal, and pointing out to white America that they were still heavily racist, that’s truly what mattered.

This is not an excuse, but an explanation, if you can see the difference, for how I struggle to find balance. So I keep refining and re-evaluating the cues. I’m not blind to them, I just don’t always get them right.

The brain that gives me a leg up in trivia competitions also creates other unintentional battles. Well, actually, not battles really, but . . . wait, never mind.

I’M A CLOWN, I’M A CLOWN!

I JUST EARNED MY CLOWN LICENSE!

Clown School wasn’t my first choice in third careers. Not even my 50th choice. But Clown School came calling me, in a clever disguise, begging me to step into the ring.

In July, I got a letter from The People’s Court. I know, I thought it was a joke, too. But it was legit, Judge [retired] Marilyn Milian’s jaunty photo on both the envelope and the letterhead. One of her producers had been scouring the Florida small claims courts for cases they thought would make good television. They found mine.

How they’d found me was owing to a used car I bought from a neighbor, we’d agreed he would pay to repair two items that I’d found were needed, and then he refused to pay for those repairs. So I sued the neighbor in small claims. The two items, a back window that didn’t work and a strong shimmy when the car was driven over 40 mph, seemed fixable when the rest of the car was okay. It was an oral agreement, perfectly legal in Florida, and much of it was referenced in emails between us.

Then he reneged.

The People’s Court wanted to arbitrate, and owing to the COVID situation, it’d be done on video call. The producer set it all up and talked the neighbor into appearing, too. I was delighted, really, to have this done in such a weird way!

On filming day, I was to expect a call at 2 p.m. to get set up. They didn’t actually get to me until 6, citing “technical problems.”  My makeup and hair needed fluffing, but no time. The judge got on after we’d been sworn in and asks me how long I’ve lived near the neighbor. Odd beginning, but okay. I explained 23 years, and then she turns to the Defendant to present his side of the case.

Ummmmmm . . . wait, over here, Judge! Plaintiff first! But she was intent on getting his statements, I guess, so I waited. His statements were mostly lies, of course, including averring that the “Bill of Sale” indicated it was an “as is” transaction. Note – there is no bill of sale from this guy. Nothing. But Judge doesn’t ask to see it even when I mention there is no bill of sale from him, and the one I do have [from another person] does not say “as is.”

Okay, you can issue me my blonde fright wig at this point. Maybe add the bow tie and flower that squirts water.

After his long recitation, Judge asks me what I have to say to that. I let her know – well, I start to tell her what was correct, but she cuts me off in the middle of every sentence. I can’t get a coherent story out as she lectures me on “as is” purchases of cars.  I point out that the parties are free to make other agreements, she says yes, so prove there was one. I start again to go to the emails, and she pulls up one [of twelve pages of 40 emails] in which I say “Let’s adjust the price when we find out what the actual charges are.” He agreed verbally, remember ‘oral contract’ at issue here, but she says he doesn’t say he agreed because it’s not in the emails. I try to show her the several other emails in which he discusses how much the repairs are, how “we” will get done, how he will talk to the repair shop and work out the amount, but she’s not hearing any of it. Cuts me off cold.

The over-sized shoes and polka-dot onesie is now on.

My attempts to get the story out are useless. I can present nothing, can’t finish a sentence. She decided this before we got on. I’m still trying to get started showing the evidence, and she says, “It says it on the Bill of Sale. Verdict for the Defendant.”

THERE IS NO BILL OF SALE.

Please place the large red nose right here, in the middle of my face.

A Rose by Any Other Name

My laptop shows me random photos, usually of nature landscapes, as I log on. Sometimes I think, “Oh, that’s [some National Park]” or similar guess. I click to find it’s actually a lake in China, a monument in Peru. My view of it changes! I interpret it differently, even though the scene itself remains constant. It’s foreign. Other.

It occurs to me that labels, names, have so much more power than we realize. People strive to be named “mayor” in a small town even though that title gives no more power than running a meeting. Folks who go to a Protestant church bristle at being mistaken for a Lutheran. A Saudi man is insulted to be asked if he is Yemeni.

Having never taken political labels as anything more than an indication of possible policy platforms, this past three years has shown me how differently others see it. As so many people consider the label of Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, etc., as akin to the designations of Catholic, Jewish, or Hindu, moving from one candidate to another can be as seriously unimaginable as following a different god.

There are still many Catholics who will stand by any priest, bishop or pope no matter his crimes. There are Irish folks who will defend any act of Sinn Fein, no matter how horrific. And the same holds true for some in any political party. Candidates from both parties have been elected while serving prison time. Label can overcome morals.

My hope is more people will judge beyond the label. I would hazard a guess that this is not that time in the U.S. Senate, but perhaps elsewhere, there is hope.

A silly holiday story

A Thanksgiving mistake with a Christmas ending.

After a simply wonderful Thanksgiving week in St. Paul, MN, visiting loved ones, old friends, and seeing a great show, my cousin dropped me off at the smaller terminal at the airport for my return to sunny Florida. The wait at the security check wasn’t too bad for a holiday weekend, but it got longer when a TSA agent had to do a hand search of my purse. It turns out that they are more efficient in Minneapolis than they are in Orlando, as I’d somehow gotten all the way to Minnesota with my trusty small Swiss Army knife.

Dang.

The little thing is usually left on my kitchen table when I’m flying somewhere, but obviously I’d overlooked it. As the TSA agent guessed, it had sentimental value. After carrying it for over 40 years, including through the CIA version of boot camp training, it seemed awful to have to throw it in the trash. The TSA guy said there was a chance the airline might put it in my luggage that had already been checked, but I was flying El Cheapo Air, so he was not confident.

I walked back out of the security zone and asked the counter agent for El Cheapo. No dice. Checking another bag, if I had one, would be $50. Thinking as desperately as I could, I asked if he at least had an envelope. He made a weak pass at a search, then handed me a tissue. Holding the tissue, I couldn’t imagine if he was being a smartass expecting me to dry my tears, or if it was just feeble attempt to be helpful.

Since there was no postal facility in the terminal, my next stop was a small news and sundries shop looking for a small box and stamps. Nope and nope. But the helpful ladies suggested the ATM machine had stamp booklets for sale. Using a sturdy Christmas card seemed my only option. $8 … it’s the airport.

The ATM, however, had no stamps. I tried every menu. A lady at the tourist info desk agreed they used to have stamps in that machine. Aargh! Back at the sundry shop I offered to pay one of the clerks, a Somali woman, to send it for me. She couldn’t do that, she said, but she did have two forever stamps in her purse. It was something! I pulled out my wallet but she refused any money in spite of several attempts to push money her hands. With profuse thanks, I gave her hand a warm shake and hoped all good blessings for her and her family.

Addressing the card to myself, I dropped the knife with its parachute cord weave fob into card and then the green envelope. Sealing it closed as best my spit could manage, I addressed it from me, sent to me, via St. Paul/Minneapolis airport, I placed it hopelessly into a blue mailbox outside of the baggage claim area (sorry I’d checked my winter coat already!). Buh-bye, I thought. Slim chance to none I’d ever see it again.

Fast forward to two weeks later, an orange notice appears in my mailbox. Envelope to be picked up, postage due $2.76. No way! But looking at the info, it noted it was from my address to my address.

Elated, in the silliest way possible – over a small pocket knife! – I got into the very long, out-the-door line at our main postal station. The manger waved me to the side, as I was the only person picking up instead of mailing holiday packages. Still unbelieving it had arrived intact, I grinned stupidly as he handed me my lumpy green envelope. I moved to give him $3, but he waved me off. “No worries,” he said. Another little mitzvah.

To strains of “Reunited,” I practically danced back to my car. Okay, it was some shit Christmas carol, but in my head it was Peaches and Herb all the way home.

Pictures below.

THE GREAT ORANGE QUESTION

UNDERSTANDING THE TRUMP APPEAL

I’ve been down with the flu for almost two weeks. [Stops typing to cough and blow nose.] Boring. Televsion and game shows fail to amuse these days, but at day twelve I’m finally feeling well enough to do some reading. Attacking articles I’ve stashed away from 2014 to the present, a few highlights jump out regarding the very real question still on so many lips: “What happened? How did the Donald get elected?” It has been pondered at length, and still, WTF?

When much of the U.S. citizenry sees a reality-show blustering loud mouth who was able to woo voters away from many more experienced and credible candidates, chances are we are only looking at one half of the equation. If you see a man espousing and encouraging racist, misogynistic, and hateful acts, it seems logical to assume that this is the main attraction. And no doubt, there is that demographic of deplorable people who are enamored with Trump hatred.

In order to better understand that the approximately 38 percent of American voters who support Trump are not all first-tier KKK members, it is necessary to look at different motivations that outweigh the [rather horrifying] lies and perverse actions now emanating from the White House. Since the time of Reagan, when the real “us versus them” divide took hold, when the sneering at “elites” caught fire, the Republican party has benefited by playing up the idea that average conservative American voters are being looked down upon by progressive leaders. Charles Keeney, a history professor in West Virginia, a state that is deeply loyal to Trump in spite of past Democratic victories there, noted in 2016 that when West Virginians speak of disliking the establishment, or elites, they are deriving that view from media. True or not, they believe that big-city coastal residents look down on them as stupid, racist hicks. So when they see the “elite” media types being driven out of their minds by Trump’s success, it makes him their guy. The enemy of my enemy is . . . my president.

This may not explain the entire attraction that middle-American Trumpers feel toward a serial adulterer who cheats people and lies constantly. But it helps. Those voters don’t see his ugly rhetoric as honest claims but rather as a game he’s playing to irritate and puncture the virtuous scolds. And this feeling has been played upon, cultivated, and nurtured to the point of virulent belief such that no contrary information, fact, or pronouncement can penetrate that hate. The almost religious fanaticism roiled up against a highly educated, professional and experienced female candidate was not a small part of why the Russian propagandists on social media were so successful. That 38 percent is happy to consume the red meat thrown to them since the groundwork done by the GOP over the past 40 years has left fertile soil in which such hate can be fed and can grow.

It isn’t reality to think that the groundswell that twice elected President Obama is made solely of so-called elites. The diversity of the progressive parties in employment, race, economic status, gender, age, etc., is one of the defining factors, and one of the weaknesses to be honest, of democrats, greens, socialists, and other liberal groups. The inclusive nature of such movements has been re-labeled. Only elites make up those parties, or so the GOP wants West Virginians to believe.

Unwinding that false narrative, how will that ever happen? Like deprogramming any cultist, it takes ten times longer than it did to plant the seeds.

Hands Off my Mom

Hands Off my Mom: A Mother’s Day Depression

 

5/11/19 – the day before.

After weeks of bombardment, reminders from media, FB, Twitter, every other ad in every newspaper, I woke up this morning from a long, emotional and so damn real dream of Mom. Mom who was everything that is love in my life, in my dreams again. So immediate, usually so welcome, always touching every nerve in my body even as I sleep.

Discussions of mothers naturally trend this time of year, and it’s not so great. Really, it’s not just me. So many of us – daughters, sons, husbands, even mothers – don’t appreciate the Hallmark holiday that drags us into the shaded, layered, and sometimes painful place where family relationships dwell. The weight this false idolatry places on normal humans may be unintended, but it has existed from the start of the honored second Sunday in May.

To be honest, I always felt the need to acknowledge the day. But my own Mother just hated the false holiday. It could be a long essay on its own, her own family life and mother issues, but in truth her reasons were solidly based on caring about how this fakery was being used to manipulate society, and to manipulate kids. She was right, and as we have begun to hear more and more, many people agree with her stance.

So on Twitter and Facebook and all other platforms, as this assinine haze of emotionally charged advertising covers the country, we suffer flashbacks, good and bad, all to support. . . making money for corporate America.

Thus, it is a solid bet that I will have a night like last night, reliving situations where my brother and his world consumes my Mom with his problems, his traumas, drug alcohol and health crises, and I flop around in those dreams wanting her attention and love, feeling guilty for putting her in that position, and resenting and fighting with my abusive father who does his narcissistic best to have Mom focus only on him. In other words, reliving my life in relation to family. 

Is this unique? No. Not at all. What is more fraught than our family connections? It’s our first loves, our first fights, our first confusion over being led by parents who turn out to be human, etc, etc.  If your family was perfect, either a) you’re exceedingly lucky or, more likely, b) you’re exceedingly forgetful/in denial.

Mother’s Day isn’t like Administrative Professionals Day, or Take Your Pet to Work Day, an excuse to excuse for paying a low wage or to enjoy some puppies. It’s so much more.

Therefore I did not sleep well.  I woke up angry and depressed, and I remain so. I miss my Mother more than I can ever express. We were robbed of so many experiences, laughs, travels together, talks and resolutions, that I can never recover. Deep grief returns in awful dump-trucks-full, sharp glass shards of memory and murky swills of emotion, pouring into my soul. I don’t choose to live this, it’s forced upon me every year.

And I hate it.

So for those who share this pain, who know this mire in which Madison Avenue drags us, whether your mother is alive or gone, an angel or an angry harpy, I feel you. You aren’t alone. There is no way to fight the scourge, but we can mentally hold each other closer and understand. My Mother isn’t for sale. Don’t use her, don’t use me.

Hands off.

Cats & Vacations & Such

img_2022I’ve been away!! One is not supposed to neglect one’s blog, so my apologies.

Wisconsin was lovely, family and friends were the same – lovely.

GingerBaker survived another week-plus without morning petting and play, but with caring neighbors he is getting better at the “Missing Mom” events.  GB continues to impress with his chill demeanor. With treats in the offering, he even allows the occasional nail clipping. But these must be VERY GOOD TREATS.

Games with GB evolve, as it is with most cats who become slightly bored with the ‘same same’ every day. ‘Throw the fuzzy mouse’ used to be a guaranteed mad runabout, but our clever boy started getting so far ahead of the actual toss, he was running into the mouse as it arced downward – head bump!  That has unnerved him adequately that we must abandon ‘throw-mouse’ for lesser fun. Unfortunately the other of his favorites is/was laser chase. As mentioned previously, discovering that lasers can burn surfaces [!] has cut down on that delight, too. I’ve yet to replace the spotted carpeting.

So now it’s back to dreamy hot days in Florida sleeping on cushions [for GB] and for me trying to make repairs/updates on the home. Such is summer!

Walk in My Shoes

It’s not easy to put yourself in other people’s shoes, even if you think you’ve got buckets of empathy tucked away in your soul.  I’d always thought I did well in that department. But never be too certain.

Recent news stories have me thinking back to one day in 1992, in Northern Virginia, as I was coming back home from work with a stop at the local Giant grocery store.

At the time I lived in a townhouse complex in one of those planned communities that grew like mushrooms all around Washington, D.C. during the 60s and after. Lines of nearly identical two-story homes, all attached in rows, lining courtyards of asphalt parking lots. Mine was slightly Williamsburg-ish, in a cul-de-sac of a circular drive of another cul-de-sac. It had been a handy purchase after returning from five years overseas, convenient to work but farther from the city than I’d planned. The housing market prices had increased rather dramatically during my absence, so to the suburbs I’d run.

There were families of all types  living cheek by jowl near town centers and outdoor pools, many with kids at the local schools. That day in ’92, I’d vaguely noted that two of those high-schoolers were sitting on the curb about six houses down from mine. Not unusual. As I’d set about unloading the back seat of my car, I’d set my purse on the trunk to free up my arms. It was a sunny day, warm and quiet, and I was in no hurry, a pleasant mood.

There was a bit of a laugh from the teens, so I glanced at them again, a girl and a boy, and it made me think of my after-school hangouts on days when it was really too nice to go in and start homework after the bus dropped us off. I was only in my thirties in 1992, but it still seemed a lifetime ago. The boy looked up at me, said something to the girl, and got up to walk slowly my way. I was still fussing trying to get the plastic bags settled on my arms as he walked up behind my car, then behind me between the cars where I’d parked. He didn’t seem to have a reason to be walking around, but I said howdy, and smiled. I’d wondered if he was going to offer to help me carry this stuff to my door, but he was silent. So I nodded at the bags and said, “I always buy too much when I shop hungry!” He continued around me, still saying nothing, smirked a bit, and headed back to his girlfriend who’d been watching this short one-person parade.

And then it hit me what he’d been doing. Ths young guy was black, and his cute girlfriend was white, and he’d been showing off. To this point I hadn’t given the race distinction any thought, but yeah, he’d been expecting me to grab my purse out of his reach, I realized, or pull myself out of his way. He’d been showing his friend how white people react to black people!

I had been so pissed! Damn pissed. He’d assumed I was some bigoted white woman, that I feared people of color! What a prick. I almost asked him to please come back and help me carry my purse, but I didn’t do it. Grabbing it off the trunk, I lugged my bags into the house without letting on I’d caught onto his game.

So I should be insulted, right?

Actually, after I calmed down I thought, no. This kid most likely had gotten that scared reaction he’d expected from me a million times in his young life. He’d gotten it from so many other people, so often, that he could almost guarantee his victimhood would be on display today. In his world, a world that he’d experienced so completely differently from what I knew, every white person saw skin color before they saw anything else. And they’d likely reacted to it with the suspicion and fear he’d anticipated from a young white woman driving a BMW in a fairly white neighborhood.

So the many stories in the news today, of unarmed men being treated with fear, remind me that this is still all too real. When black patrons get treated differently in a Starbucks than the white patrons, when they get suspicious looks, when they get arrested for doing what other people do who are not black, or worse are shot at and murdered owing to that bigotry and fear, that moment in Virginia plays back to me. That lesson that I learned that day is still so true, that being black here in America is not understandable to those who don’t live it. And so many of us just don’t understand how hard that is to face all the time, every day, in so many situations. Our parents didn’t have to warn us, give us the talk about being careful, how to react to being pulled over just for not being white. We’ve never been there, in those shoes, because we can’t begin to imagine what that is really like.pexels-photo-349494.jpeg

 

On the Verge of Crazy, the Kids are Alright

The title could describe so much about us, so much about America today. It certainly suits my mood for the past 17 months, and the ubiquitous questions about how the hell we got here that press on us at every news cycle.

Make no mistake, the rest of the world exists at all levels of “crazy,” it’s just that we here in the States have been able to maintain the balance tipping more toward the rule of law than toward Teapot Dome or Watergate. The corruption of good intentions, the subverting of the public good, happens everywhere you find the human race. How we manage it, how much we honor its opposite, that seems to me to be the defining factor between America and, say, Sudan, North Korea, and Russia. And like those example countries, once down the rabbit hole of self-indulgence and greed, comebacks are down a long, dark road.

So that is why, as I look down from the ledge of despair, I and so many others weep with gratitude over the hope given us by the students from Stoneman Douglas. Seeing the culture of community they embrace, the drive for fair and just laws in the face of billion-dollar PACs, I can put down the bottle of whisky, pack away for later the Xanax-laced tea, and feel good.

Our hope arrives on skateboards, carrying smart phones, and we love them.

Sleep better, my friends. We still have laws, we still have free press [blessings on all the reporters who keep us informed], and we have built into our lives an expectation that our system can reject the corruption that is swilling in the Okeefenokee we used to call the White House.

pexels-photo-373289.jpeg

PRIVATIZE MY ASS!

PRIVATIZATION – Such a fancy word for greed

Taking services out of the control of governments seems to be one of the stronger planks of the Republican platform these days. From street cleaning, garbage pick-up, to water and electric utilities, the cry is to get government out of “business.” Especially at the local level, the pressure is on to let corporations run your world.

What does that really mean, to privatize something? Government services are usually those that affect all citizens, such as maintaining city streets, providing clean water, ensuring parklands exist that are open to everyone. These benefits are paid for through taxes of various kinds, although utilities like water, sewer, recreation & electric all have a fee for usage that covers expenses and gives back to the whole community for other services, as well.

Private companies are able to do similar tasks, provide similar services, and many governments of all sizes can contract out part or all of these things without turning over total control of any service to free market influences. The market, unlike your elected officials, doesn’t care if your mother has cancer, or your child has special needs, or you just lost your job. It is impervious to those things, it runs solely on profit and loss considerations. Service to citizens is not on the priority list. Private companies large enough to take control of, say, a water utility are normally not locally situated in small towns and cities. Their employees and managers are not local people. Your neighbors don’t run NextEnergy mega-utilities.

Why is this desirable to the right? When I joined the political world [as a Republican], local control of government, the right of self-determination, was the standard on which most other strategy was based. Caring for democracy, for citizens’ freedom, was key. Now it seems giving power over to big business is the only goal.

For an answer, I will invoke a common phrase: Follow the money.

Buying political clout, and therefore politicians, has turned our democracy into a plutocracy. Money rules. Dollars buy ad campaigns full of empty promises. Those dollars then buy gerrymandered districting to limit – even eliminate – competition from the other party. And perhaps the emphasis that the GOP is now placing on the “I have mine, you go earn yours” philosophy has turned the political divide even more toward self preservation than to what we see as “the public good.”

I’m still with the founding fathers [most of them] on preventing the less fortunate from being disenfranchised simply owing to their bank account. [Thanks to slight prejudice about who was most qualified/educated to vote for president, Hamilton and Madison took us down the Electoral College road. Um . . . disagree.] And that includes having protections from abuses of the market in our basic needs, in my opinion. If you can’t afford clean water, should you die? If you answer ‘yes,’ please delete your account and return to the hole in which you belong. Should only the rich have smooth roads or safe bridges? Schools? Our current government is turning in that direction.

The protections for all citizens, no matter their status, rests in good government by and for the people. Keeping a steady eye and a strong hand on fairness, that is why we elect our neighbors and why we should “unelect” them if they fail. Or if they become enamored of their own profit rather than the good of the community. Which can happen. A lot.

If you’ve elected someone who starts telling you that it’s better for private business to clean and test your water because it’s cheaper, and they use lower standards, cheaper chemicals, less testing since all those things cut into profit, and because shucks THEY aren’t drinking this water, maybe take another look at your elected official. And her campaign contributions. And his private tax returns. And whether or not his kids are running the company taking over your water.

Community health versus private wealth, that friction is why we have government in the first place.  Saying that money equals free speech means the rich talk while the middle class and poor watch.

Gun control? Health care? Environmental safeguards?  Vote.  VOTE!!!!