I don’t know it works for your normal folks, but the easiest way to ease me into something heavy and serious is to make me laugh. My interest in classical music and opera stem from my enjoyment of Warner Bros. cartoons and Marx Bros. movies. I’m into philosophy because of Monty Python, and I doubt I’m the only one.
As for politics, it’s because Young Matt wanted to understand all the jokes in Bloom County. Remember Bloom County? Berkeley Breathed’s little cartoon that started off as a funnier Doonesbury and wound up featuring a big-nosed penguin and a cat that was supposed to mock Garfield but turned out to be marketable as hell.
I used to love Bloom County and had plenty of collections of the strips. The complete lack of respect towards politicians and the whole process despite acknowledging its incredible, undeniable necessity appealed to Young Matt. I imagine my appreciation of absurdism comes from a comic strip that regularly had woodland critters running for president and playing Star Trek with a wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet.
Now, I said all that to say all this. During the 1988 election, a Sunday strip had Opus the Penguin – by then the main character of the strip – at the voting both trying to decide between the two candidates. I don’t know if you remember, but the ’88 election was a laugh riot from start to finish, and we wound up with then-Vice-President George H.W. Bush against former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis and his eyebrows.
So, anyhow, Opus is struggling between Bush and Dukakis, “the wimp or the shrimp” – yeah, people regularly called the president a “wimp,” so quit your crying – asking the poll worker if he can write in “Gregory Peck,” that sort of thing. Eventually, he pulls the lever and a robot arm smacks him with a Stooges-esque pie. Classic stuff.
Last panel shows a similarly pie-covered Portnoy – a surly, somewhat sexist groundhog character – sulking as Opus says “What’s important is taking part in the process.” That particular cartoon has been running through my head all day as I prepared to head to the Cardsville Fire Station and Community Center to make my choice between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. I’m not happy about the situation and sort of feel like I’ve got a cream pie drying on my face.
Here’s the thing. When we had 25-plus candidates announcing their intention to run for the Democratic nomination, if asked I would have said the absolute worst possible outcome would’ve been either one of those bland white dudes like… well, shit, I can’t think of any of them. Or, Bernie Sanders versus Joe Biden, and here we are.
Before we get too deep into it, I voted for Bernie Sanders because, ideologically speaking, he more closely represents my own views. I do think we as a country should put more effort into making sure everyone gets regular, quality, affordable health care. I do think the face we live in what calls itself the Richest Nation on the Planet and cancer patients have to run GoFundMe pages to make a slight dent in the debt their kids will still be paying off 20 years later. The banks do have too much unchecked power, in my opinion, and speaking of debt, if we’re going to insist that “success” somehow involves a college degree, I really don’t see any reason we should hobble young people with bad loans with shitty interest rates.
I’ve never particularly liked Joe Biden, especially after the whole Anita Hill business, and he’s always represented that “Washington as usual” middle-of-the-road, keep poor people poor and rich people rich aspect that permeates American politics. I mean, I know why he was chosen as Obama’s veep, that makes perfect sense, and no doubt he did some intended good in that role. Sort of a Kennedy-LBJ thing, look it up.
Thing is, though, I’ve never had the same hard-on for Sanders that many of my so-called leftist fellow travelers seem to have burning in their souls. Some friends of mine lived in Burlington back when he first started lighting fires and gave me his book. Okay, fine. I’m down with all that, and he seemed to handle his state’s affairs quite handily. One thing people throw up is his pro-gun (sorta) stance, but being a Rural American, I can sort of understand that.
But when he achieved Savior status in 2016, I never was able to get on board. Partly, as I’ve said before, I look at politicians only as a Journalist should according to Mr. Mencken. What really got me, though, was so many people who were completely convinced that if he got in office he would totally not do all the horrible, inexplicable things all presidents wind up doing. Jimmy Carter’s spent the past 40 years building homes for the poor to cleanse his soul and get into Heaven after just four years.
And the idea that Sanders would not find himself in a situation where America “had” to blow up some country that looks at us funny or not string corporate greedheads by their intestines as they deserve, instead figuring out to make sure they keep doing what they keep doing. If he were an actual threat to the Powers That Be, whether it’s the greedheads or the war pigs, he’d be dead in a ditch somewhere.
That doesn’t mean whoever does get the nod – and it’s looking more and more like Biden – can’t use his ideas. Shocker, I know, but what a president actually gets accomplished (or not) while in the White House changes and evolves as he (and eventually, dammit, she) deals with the ebb and flow of America. That’s one reason any Republican administration of the past 50 years has been such a goddamn mess. Instead of actually dealing with reality, they try to force it to conform to their ideology. If being illegal actually stopped all abortions, for example, Roe v Wade would’ve never been a thing.
Okay, it’s pushing 8:30, so let’s wrap this up. Biden’s won a solid victory in Mississippi and is projected to win in Michigan and Missouri. By the end of the week, at least, I think we’ll see Biden as the clear victor in the nomination hunt. What that means for Sanders, of course, remains to be seen. As he showed last go around, he’s not one to give in so easily (and no, I don’t think it damaged Hilary Clinton to any appreciable degree).
Some people won’t be happy and will spend the rest of their lives saying incredibly dumb shit. They’ll do this because instead of electing a politician to do politics, they want a savior to save us all. Just don’t work that way, y’all.
But really. These two old cats. We could’ve had Julian Castro or Kamala Harris, but not. Two old, familiar dudes who should be elder statesmen and not the last bulwark between the Insanity and Dumbness of another four years of Trump and his lickspittles.
Good job, everyone.