Sunday, August 14, 2016
Posted by TJ
With Kintala resting in the state of Florida for several months, and with plans to return here next summer, it seemed reasonable to shift our official place of residence to the Sunshine State. There was some
paperwork hassles involved, but not as much as one might think. The finale was getting Florida driver's licenses, which turned out to be a very low key, even pleasant, experience. Having wrestled with Missouri's DMV for more than a decade, we were expecting the worst.
I never really thought I would end up as a Florida resident. I have spent a lot of time in the state. The last job I had involved regular visits to Ft. Lauderdale, with occasional stops in Key West, Ft. Myers, Jacksonville, and Daytona. Family vacations in my growing up years usually meant a week or so at a Florida beach or dive spot. Still, Florida is about as far south as America goes and it is brutal hot here in the summer. Insects actually own the state. They lease living space to the humans, getting paid in bites, itches, rashes, and just general unpleasantness. And I am not a big fan of hurricanes. I often said that “Florida was a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.”
Oops. One of life's little twists and turns.
Another of those twists is landing in Florida during a presidential election year, a “swing” state. For most of my life voting for a President was a duty that didn't really matter. The states I voted in were pretty much one flavor of politics or the other. With few exceptions there was little doubt into which column the electoral votes would fall. But, for reasons I will have to explore some day, Florida votes actually matter. Unfortunately, that means that the residents of Florida, which now includes yours truly, are being blasted with all of the attack ads literally millions of advertising dollars can buy.
Fortunately, Deb and I don't watch television, listen to commercial radio, subscribe to a newspaper, have a front door that campaign workers can knock on, or a mailbox into which they can drop fliers. (It never occurred to me that would be one of the advantages of living this life-style.) When I want to find out something about a candidate, I usually go to a web sight and read their position papers. The one place I don't look to for information is attack ads, which is pretty much all that those advertising dollars are being used to buy. Attack ads are, to me, just that; slander, propaganda, innuendo, and outright fabrications. They work of course, which is why all those advertising dollars are being spent. But that says more about us as American voters than it does about the pluses or minuses of any particular candidate. I can't even blame the ad buyers. If the job one is assigned to do requires a hammer, one doesn't go out and buy a tape measure.
I do understand that no politician is going to admit to mistakes, past indiscretions, failures of policy, or failures of conscience. Few will ever say, “We tried my idea and it was a disaster. We should try something else.” Normally one would think a free press would point out that kind of history. But the US has an entertainment industry rather than a free press; and that industry's only reason for being is to rake in advertising dollars, including those advertising dollars spent on attack ads. Thus attack ads are, unfortunately, a nearly useless attempt to fill the role the media has abandoned. One of the many serious flaws in our experiment in democracy.
But this is the only democracy we have, and my vote will (very slightly) matter this year. I hope to cast it as a quiet-minded, rational, thoughtful human being. A tall ask, that, since I'm not sure many of us qualify as quiet-minded, rational, thoughtful human beings. Quiet-minded, rational, thoughtful, and human being, may be a contradiction of terms. Nor is such something our society values or teaches. We like conflict, emotional outbursts, shoot -from-the-hip, over-the-top, free-wheeling, free-for-all bar fights. (And hyphens. Really. Think about it.)
And it may be that a quiet-minded, rational, thoughtful review of this election will leave one thinking, “Well, now what do I do?" There is no one running who is quiet-minded, rational, thoughtful...hell, even their humanity is questionable.” Not their humanness, their humanity. (Note: there appears to be 25 some odd people running for President, and I don't want to suggest that none of them would be welcome on Kintala. But only 5 or six have any real name recognition, and only 1 of 2 will take the oath of office. And of that group, I can't imagine looking at any of them while thinking, "there's a person I would want to take on an afternoon's sail.")
We will all just have to do the best we can and hope something workable survives past November. But I am glad to live a life that is light-footed, mobile, open to new experiences, and more self-reliant than some others. I am glad to have a boat full of tools that we know how to use.