Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Political and Proud by Suz deMello

I'm political and proud.

My first clear memory was about politics. I remember my mother walking across our family room, where the TV was on showing election returns, and remarking "I hope that Adlai Stevenson wins."

In retrospect, I realize that election was the California Democratic presidential primary in June 1960. Stevenson did not win; Jack Kennedy did, and went on to become the president and then a victim.

I was five years old.

At about the same time, I started to read the daily paper--I especially liked the Nancy comic strip--and got into Newsweek as well a few years later. I demonstrated against the Vietnam War as a teen, and before I was eligible to vote, campaigned door-to-door for George McGovern.

Though I majored in art as an undergraduate, I then earned a master's in poli sci, with emphasis on international relations and American political parties and politics.

I don't understand how anyone can be apolitical. Why would anyone allow others to control his or her own life? Using whatever power I have to make my world better, whether it be personal or political influence, is as natural to me as breathing. I'm not one of the herds of sheeple who are willing to have things happen to them. I go out and make things happen. I work and contribute to candidates I like, write letters to the editor, and get into political arguments with strangers in Facebook.

One can argue that one vote is meaningless, but tell that to the hordes of Brits who voted for Brexit and who, the next day, found themselves Googling "EU" and "Brexit," as well as telling reporters that they had voted for Brexit only as a protest, didn't think their vote would make a difference, and wanted a do-over. 

The only plus has been comedians' commentary. Check this out, from transplanted Brit John Oliver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh0ac5HUpDU

In fact, a great reason for following politics is political humor. Unless you follow politics, you can't truly appreciate the below:

As a writer, I greatly admire the Scots. 

More importantly, I believe that each one of us is capable of making a positive contribution to our world--or, rather to the many worlds in which we live. One of those worlds is the public, political world. A healthy, functioning democracy needs everyone's help, everyone's input, everyone's contribution if it is to succeed.

Recent events show that we are fast sliding into an abyss of violence, prejudice, and inequality that could easily lead to destabilization and bloody revolution.  Revolutions aren't comfortable and cozy. We can't live in a cocoon during a revolution. Revolutions are liable to destroy societal structures upon which we all depend, including our writing space. No one will be immune. We must take positive steps to love one another, or at least be aware and fair to those who are different.


  1. Wow. What a call to action, Suz! And a fantastic counterpoint to Sacchi's story from Monday.

    I'm proud to say I've voted in every election since I became eligible, even though I've been overseas a lot of the time. AND I'm from Massachusetts, so sometimes it might seem that my vote doesn't matter. But that won't stop me.

    When I was in grade school, I wrote a play about Nixon and Goldwater, called "For the Good of the Republican Party".

    Wonder if I still have a copy?

  2. Hi Suz-
    Glad to see someone else is taking this topic to the orange gorilla in the room. Some of my earliest memories are newspaper articles about Nixon getting stones thrown at him in foreign countries. Then we went and made him president.

    Suz said-
    More importantly, I believe that each one of us is capable of making a positive contribution to our world--or, rather to the many worlds in which we live. One of those worlds is the public, political world. A healthy, functioning democracy needs everyone's help, everyone's input, everyone's contribution if it is to succeed.

    I used to think that too. In fact, I had bumper stickers made up saying "If everyone votes, Bush will lose." They paid off, seeing I got to use them through four elections. :>)

    But now, considering the fact that many who have never voted before are now lined up for Trump, I'm not sure of that theory any more. People are sheep. What if the 40% who never vote come out for him? Literacy tests were designed to suppress certain groups of people, but couldn't there be some kind of test to see if a person has the basic wits to vote?

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  4. I remember when political conventions were real contests, with nobody accumulating enough votes to win ahead of time. The old battle-it-out-in-a-smoke-filled room days, I think, and Harold Stassen running for nine elections but only coming close in the first one, against Dewey. Not that I was around then. By the time I was watching the conventions on TV--pretty much as soon as we got TV, when I was twelve, although my friends had it much sooner--Stassen was regarded fondly as a bit of a joke. And I remember when Stevenson ran against Eisenhower in the general election. I'd forgotten that Stevenson ran again against JFK for the nomination. And then there was Nixon running against JFK, and all that business about the first televised Presidential debates and how the cameras accentuated Nixon's five-o-clock shadow and his sweating under the lights. Ah, how shallow we voters are to be swayed by such things! But I was very much in favor of JFK, even though I couldn't vote yet. Johnson v. Goldwater was my first time.

    As you might guess from my story, I did campaign for McGovern, and have a McGovern/Eagleton button. And I had a "Don't Blame Me, I'm from Massachusetts" bumper sticker, but I doubt that it's around any more.

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  6. It looks as if several of us belong to the Baby Boom generation that came of age in the 1960s, and had parents who much preferred leftist candidates like Adlai Stevenson to Senator Joseph McCarthy & his anti-Communist witch-hunts. I dread a violent revolution for the reasons you mention, Suz, but I suspect both the U.S. and Canada came closer to that than anyone knows during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The response of gov'ts on both sides of the border was to create the modern welfare state to defuse some of the rage of desperate people. It's exhausting to think that the same fights have to be refought over and over.

  7. Yeas, it's beyond exhausting, it's depressing to think that we keep having to fight the same battles over and over again. Some are just determined that only THEY have the right answers, and that only their "invisible big-daddy in the sky" is the one, true God. And that no one should have the legal right to live in any way they disagree with. And that the White man should be the default choice in any situation, since he is always right. Rhymes with "white", right?

    I have Black friends and I have educated friends, yet when they tell me they're Republicans, I find myself doubting their sanity. Yet we remain friends by only touching on issues, and we drop them by mutual agreement, if they get too heated. Yet we've been friends for many years. I try to forgive them for their wealth and easy life, even as they offer every time to "treat" me to lunch. I don't want to be the poor cousin, so I pay my own way, thank-you. But I wonder at how odd life is, that wealth doesn't usually go to those who are educated and work hard. It's capricious. Just like best-seller status and truckloads of money can go to an untalented, unedited, hack fan-fiction writer. Sigh...