by Will Gottlieb
Coastal Journal staff
One day soon the villagers will gather around my front door to wave torches and pitchforks, and it will be for something I’ve written here. I’m sure a lot of people think it’s a bad idea to encourage readers to drink beer – better beer, anyway – but this is what I really care about, the only thing that makes life bearable, sometimes. “Ich kann nicht anders,” said Lex Luthor. Or was it Luther Allison? “I can do no other.”
And somebody’s got to do it. Someone has to make a stand for cynicism, to rise up proudly declare their apathy – and it might as well be me. Let the politically pure write their stirring essays; let the healthy minded types say their bit; let the projectors and planners say grand things about civic discourse and the True Meaning of the Constitution. But you know and I know that, once the projectors are done conceiving and implementing their projects, once the political types have manipulated the masses into (temporarily) seeing things their way, the rest of us are going to need a beer. At least one. We’re going to need to disengage from all these true believers, these projectors, these party members – pop the top off a bottle of something cold and lovely, and allow the goodness therein to bring us back to our senses.
Oh my God, this election! Scheduled to coincide with the Mexican Day of the Dead, and why not? It’s been a long, deadly, boring trip from 2008 to here – and yet so very many people seem to be running for office these days, as if that’s going to do something. (Three people on my very short Facebook friends list now identify themselves as candidates for one body or another, and that’s just wrong. I sense the disapprobation of my rum-runner ancestors. Wasn’t I raised better than this?) And they’re all the best candidate for the job. Ask them; they’ll tell you. It’s like listening to the radio stations here in Southern Maine: They’re all #1. Amazing. Either that, or the other candidate is just wrong, wrong, wrong, and you’ve just got to vote for them instead, because, if you don’t, terrible things will happen, or continue to happen, or not happen at all to the people to whom terrible things ought to happen.
And how do you parse all that blather? You could get out there and read up on every candidate and each issue, and good for you, sport. Let me know how it goes, preferably by mail. Or you could do what I do: Take shortcuts. But instead of the usual shortcuts – “I hate party X, so I’m voting for party Y” – my advice would be to let go of all those things you think your party is saying, or the other party is doing, or the things that can be done once we get rid of all the people of that other party. They’re not going away, not really. And if they do, the people you replace them with will pull all of the same stunts, in the same order, guaranteed.
So what would constitute an appropriate rule-of-thumb? Look for the signs, I say. And we’re not talking “signs and wonders” here; an awful lot of political signs have been posted hither and yon for just this purpose. And it comes down to this: I plan to vote for the person whose sign appears most frequently on my way to the polling booth. Or I’m going to vote against that person, but in any event, I’m going to let that be the determining factor. Might as well justify cutting down all those trees.
And when the election is over, I’ll pour off a glass or two of Three Philosophers, and stop worrying about it all. Because, in the final analysis, the rich are going to continute to get richer, and the poor are going to continute to get poorer.
At least the beer is getting better. Let’s see your party make the same claim.