Larry Banman: Post-election pouting is not an appropriate response
November 11, 2008
I have to admit that I felt like giving up after hearing the results of the recent election. I have never hid the fact that my political views are to the right of center. In today’s world that most often puts me in the position of backing Republican candidates and initiatives that are aligned with conservative values. Coming from that point of view, as you might have guessed, last Wednesday morning was as dismal for me as the weather. I worked as a stringer for the Associated Press in Eagle County, so my disappointment really set in at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.
The candidate races on the national and state level pretty much went as predicted, so I was somewhat steeled for those results.
In my opinion, the anti-Bush sentiment in America was too strong for John McCain, and even Sarah Palin, to overcome. For those of us with a few grey hairs, we can remember another charismatic youthful presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy, that swept us off of our collective national feet, defeating a “too-much-starch-in-his-shirt” candidate named Richard Nixon. As an historical aside, many political analysts believe the election turned when Mr. Nixon came across as bland in a televised debate between himself and the charismatic Mr. Kennedy. Compounding the problem for Nixon was the fact that his shirt blended in with the backdrop and he looked sickly. Personal analysis: The science of politics can be as fickle as a wardrobe choice. How else do you explain that more people watch Project Runway than the History Channel. I digress but, I must admit, that last comment is laced with a barb.
A couple of weeks ago, I listened to commentary by Glenn Beck, an American radio and television host and conservative political commentator. Mr. Beck would be classified as very conservative, so keep that in mind. He interviewed a couple of people who were furious with President George W. Bush for getting us into the war in “Turkey and Pakistan.” In these peoples’ minds, presumably they didn’t care where the war was or why it was started but, if George W. was behind it, it had to be wrong.
I am sure you could find a liberal commentator to set up some poor bystander to make an equally stupid assertion to make Republicans look foolish. My point is this. I don’t care what side of the political aisle you are on, we have got to get to the place where we no longer tolerate ignorance, our most costly national commodity.
You likely won’t see it reported on CNN, but the approval rating of the United States Congress has been even lower than the rating for President Bush. And yet, as near as I can tell, we have done nothing but perpetuate the status quo across the board and on both ends of the ideological spectrum. If you are a man or woman with a small business, all I can say is brace yourself. If you think you are shouldering more than your share of the tax burden now, you probably haven’t seen anything yet. Nobody is offering to bail you out when you get upside down with your credit and yet, the bill for the various bailouts is likely to fall directly on your shoulders. Either your shoulders or the shoulders of your children. Talk about a legacy. I have a colleague who thinks we should send each and every congressman and woman a one-way ticket back home, find the most successful small business people in America and send them to Washington.
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It was probably the outcome of the statewide ballot initiatives that boiled my blood the hottest. I know the following statement is an oversimplification, but I came out of this election realizing that we, as the people of Colorado, are more supportive of increasing the stakes for gambling than we are of funding for education, certain individual rights in the work place, providing money to assist with the care of handicapped adults or defining life as beginning at conception. Again, I realize the above statement compares apples and oranges in some aspects. For example, gambling is a personal choice while the others would have involved taxes or costs that would have been applied to everybody. However, I believe the election does reveal something about us as an electorate. You can say that some of the other ballot initiatives were confusing. However, the initiatives mentioned above were pretty cut and dried.
Whenever I visit my children and grandchild, I like to go to their church in Fort Collins and I often get to hear a British pastor who still resides most of the time in England. (Quick note: If I am ever a candidate for President of the United States, I will not deny my association with this pastor. In less than 10 sermons, I have a pretty good idea about his values and where he stands on a variety of topics.) I love his understated British wit and he gets in some well-placed and well-timed barbs about what he calls “the colonies.” Mostly, I like the perspective he brings from outside my normal realm of perception. He had a couple of reminders about how Jesus didn’t differentiate between Jews and Gentiles (by way of background, they had bigger differences than Republicans and Democrats). But mostly, he reminded us that not getting involved in politics is an irresponsible choice. In “Larry-speak,” the message I heard was directed at me and went something like, “Enough with the pouting already.”
While reading the front page of the Denver Post on Monday morning, I was reminded that most of my views likely will never align with President-elect Obama’s. However, the correct response is not to take my truck and leave the sandbox. There are proper ways to deal with disagreements. I was recently talking about somebody who often responded to adversity by saying, “If you don’t like what I am doing, I guess you need to hire somebody else.” I realized that was just an adult version of, “I’ll take my truck and go home.” I then realized that my post-election pout was really no different. It is time to suck in my lower lip and go about working for the changes in which I believe.
I was miffed (but not surprised) that one of the Republican responses to the election defeat for John McCain/Sarah Palin was to harp on GOP vice-presidential candidate Palin’s apparent taste for expensive clothes. That’s not what we need in America, more bickering and finger-pointing. I know Mr. Obama has promised us many, many positive changes. Don’t be surprised when he can’t deliver. (Mr. McCain had no magic pixie dust either.) I believe the national pickle we are in is a little more involved than a few policy changes and executive orders will be able to repair. And then, don’t be surprised when many of the very people who sang his praises this past week will be calling for his political neck. (The human race, left to its own devices, never really changes that much.)
For too many of us, our “feeling” for how the economy is doing is tied to the most recent price which we paid at the gasoline pump. Gas dipped below $2 a gallon in Denver this past weekend. Therefore, a lot of us feel good about the future, even though this roller coaster we are on has likely not descended to its nadir. They say that adversity often brings people together and I believe we have some treacherous trails yet to traverse. My hope is that somehow we get to the point where we realize the “fixes” we need are those that start from within and not those which we hope others will deliver.
Now that would be change.
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