The election of 2016 is almost upon us, but already it has had its effect upon America. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Gulf to the Great Lakes, this nation has been forever changed by the process that has unfolded over the last few years as never before. Yes, this great land now stands perfectly united in one solid belief:
We will all be glad when this crap is all over.
I was going to write a post about anything other than the election. You are probably sick of it, I certainly am, and there really isn’t anything worth saying at this point that hasn’t been shouted on CNN several times a day.
Actually, there is a lot worth saying but no one is going to say it until the noise is turned down on November 9th and calmer voices have a decent chance of being heard.
The problem, however, is that once you commit yourself to never speaking or writing or even thinking about this election you have almost no choice but to bring it up somehow. Try this for a thought experiment or mental exercise: Stand in one corner of the room you are in now and try very hard to not think about a white elephant. It’s impossible. The more you try, the more you think about the elephant and the more it takes on a life of its own.
The elephant in the room is what we don’t want to talk about. But we all do.
I had the pleasure of attending a conference in Chicago on ophthalmology for my new job. People attended from all over the world, but primarily from all over the United States. As the new guy, I made great use of the opportunity to meet as many people as I could. If you have ever been to a conference like this, you know that this means I spent a lot of time at the bar.
It’s a living.
Nearly every stranger I talked to eventually steered the conversation to the one thing they could not get off their mind. And everyone had exactly the same opinion, which was really more of a series of questions. Whose idea was this? What did we do to deserve this? When will it be over? Why is this happening? Some people had lame answers to these questions but no one was confident in their opinions. All they knew is that it had to stop.
My response was the same to everyone. “We have so much to talk about as a nation, black and white, rich and poor, young and old, male and female, and it’s as if we would rather talk about anything else rather than actually confront the dizzying array of changes that in turns delight and dismay us.”
The response was always the same. People wanted me to run for office.
Now, there are many good reasons why I don’t run for office and I won’t list them here. Let’s just say that the writer isn’t usually the person you want in charge of things and the two presidents with degrees in Engineering were Hoover and Carter. So leave me out of the equation for a while although I appreciate what you have to say in advance. Except for that nasty comment from the troll, he can go to Hell.
No, what matters here is that everyone knows what is wrong and everyone is simply waiting for someone to talk about it like an adult. Or a poet, if I can muster it at a bar because frankly watching baseball playoffs gives you a lot of time to think and polish the craft.
One guy from Alabama, who will remain nameless because I can’t remember it, was a real hoot. “I am a rock-ribbed Republican evangelical conservative and I would vote for the first person who said this even if they were a Democrat socialist anarchist whatever!” I told him, “Well, it would be nice if for just once our votes didn’t cancel each other out,” and we both laughed. All you can do is laugh.
There have been a lot of changes in our world and they have confused all of us. Some people woke up one morning in a nation they didn’t recognize anymore. Others have been looking at a world which could be a lot better and have not been able to believe that no one else sees it.
But for all of the chaos swirling around us, there are opportunities to make a new, powerful change for the better.
Let’s say you have a beef with the regulation that is strangling innovation and the creation of jobs, like a guy from Alabama who is still nameless because I still can’t remember it. He does have a point. But what can we do to protect the air and water?
You could do what we’ve always done, which is to specific that they buy this machine and that machine and hire these compliance officers to check off these boxes and file the right paperwork and all the things we have been doing for years. Or, instead, you could require them to buy the government required bad stuff monitoring BSM-6000 which is hooked up to the internet and sounds a loud alarm when it detects bad stuff is coming out the tailpipe of the plant. When that happens, the company has two choices – either have a team in jumpsuits swoop in to fix the problem immediately or pay out the wazoo.
The key word here is “wazoo”. New regulations have to be specific where it counts.
What is the point to all of this? It is a very simple one. Anyone who is getting into government right now has a unique opportunity to be a part of a great mechanism that will engage the nation and actually fix problems in ways that build confidence and set us up for greater success. It’s simply a matter of attitude, and this election has helped our attitude in only one way.
As Winston Churchill, the quote machine, once said, “Americans, once they have exhausted all other alternatives, will always do the right thing.” I tell people that we are in the process of exhausting the alternatives and to be patient.
In the right hands, in the right spirit, this nation is united like it has not been for a long time. We’re all sick of this crap and want to move on. It will take some leadership and a dash of poetry to help us move on, sure, but we are indeed ready for it.
As George Will said, Trump is like chemotherapy for the Republican Party. Make that the nation and I’m with you, George. Let’s cure this cancer. Let’s all make it known that after all this chemo we are just plain sick of being sick and get on with being well.
Hold on for another week, folks. The real movement is about to come.