Crusaders or Crooks - American Politics
Last fall, I watched more political news than ever and became totally depressed, so depressed, in fact that I was seriously asking why I was here. The way political parties today attack one another, unfairly; the corruption of some individuals; the continual lying – not by the usual suspects but institutionally; and the bias of the media. Anyway, I was thoroughly disgusted and more so than normal. Finally, that night, I watched part of a movie and went to sleep.
Then at 5:45 AM I was wakened by a powerful light coming from my TV screen; it was the Visio logo shining right through the doors of my armoire, which is lined with fabric and rarely allows anything but a faint glow to penetrate. Then, the real “tell” was the fact I couldn’t get that bright logo off the screen. I unplugged the connection – nothing then I turned off the cable box and TV – nothing. The glaring logo would not go away. So, I draped a couple thick towels over the television, shut the doors and went on about my day.
It finally occurred to me that someone from the “other side” was trying to connect with me since, for me, it’s always electrical signaling. At 8:30 AM, that was confirmed when I asked. Someone was there alright but it wasn’t the normal one soul; instead, this time there were a total of five of them.
It was a real challenge trying to identify who they all were but through a process of elimination I found there were 3 men and 2 women – all from Arizona and all in politics – either national, statewide ,or local. Most of these people I hadn’t thought of in decades and a couple I just barely knew, still there they were a mayor, a state senator, a governor/Arizona senator, another governor and a US Senator who actually ran for President of the United States. Their messages were perfect.
The first was the first female mayor of Phoenix whom I adored (1976). She told me that my depression and sadness drew them to me to help. Her quotes were fascinating and began with:
“First. Nothing new. Do you think Mondale was a saint? (Not sure why she singled him out; he ran for President in ‘84). Lots of corrupt cronies around him too woven throughout that political world. The only difference today is the speed with which we find out (communicate) now. Terrifying, really. And, then when shared with millions there is mass hysteria, uprisings, violence, depression, and suicide! Why do you think I drank? Ha! Old enough to see it around me and helpless to do much more than a single person could. Maintaining my sense of humor was the balance for me.”
The second voice was the state senator who reflected more on process:
“Small cities or large: disappearing ballots, strategically placed polling places, gerrymandering districts – all part of the game. That’s why politics is so ugly. People get in to capitalize on the system and make money, have recognition and act like they have power - 80% maybe. The balance are good souls who try. Some get burned at the stake and others survive then run like hell back home when they retire. Still the fuel of the recognition is quite an aphrodisiac to many.”
The next, a governor/US Senator – whom I had never met but did know his daughter prior to her passing some years ago. He made me laugh since he referenced the state senator’s comment about the 80/20 rule:
“Well, I was one of the crooks. Not really but my motives weren’t pure. I capitalized on my knowledge and leverage throughout my political career. How do you think we got Channel _____, (a local television station) - I leveraged the FCC. So, it’s a game and if you think of it like playing monopoly, then it makes sense. Some rolls (of the dice) are lucky – some not but when you land on a good square, you borrow money or do whatever trade you can to get a hotel on there!”
He went on to explain that it’s not a huge payback on the other side since it’s our intention that determines if there is a reckoning or not. Vicious, malicious, mean attacks personally causing pain, killing people for greed, power, or money – that’s bad, bad, bad. But a little graft or corruption when done with a playful attitude – not so much. He encouraged me to shake it off, watch less TV and not to be ignorant but not to take it too seriously.
My favorite was Senator Barry Goldwater and I had to share his name because his wisdom made me laugh out loud and everything he said sounded just like him. I had known him only remotely (I was closer to a few of his friends) and he remembered me – again, vaguely. What he said made me smile because he came to give me a bit of personal advice about my current life path and most recent book.
“This is the bit of wisdom I came to share – and it will apply to your wonderful and much needed book. ‘Original thought is a bitch.’ (Of course, Barry was the originator of conservative thought.) People clamor out of the woodwork to attack and question the source, the methodology, the feasibility, the intent around the effort. But you seem like a tough cookie to me, so you were absolutely the right one for this task. I’ll tell you,honey, I’ll be here right beside you – and I’ll join your chorus of supporters (over here). Hell, I’d buy a carton of your books if I was there. Keep your head down, keep plugging through and don’t let the political bullshit get you down.”
The last was our first female governor who fell into that job by accident. I knew her fairly well and she appointed me to a task force when I was still quite young. She recounted all the details of that incident and threw me a few compliments. She wrapped it up this way:
"Politics for me was an accident – remember? But I managed (key word here – not a leader, a manager) to make it through and serve the best I could. I was one of the 20% uncorrupt ones, which is why I lived in an apartment much of my life.”
These five dear, dear souls made me smile and made me realize that nothing is new - in life or in politics. So, thank you, Margaret, Sam, Earnest, Barry and Rose – forever remembered and forever treasured. I hope they made you feel a bit better about all of this, too.