Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Push and Shove of the Real World

6:00 am -- The line is forming in the dark. At dawn the stream of cars into the state capital is already obvious. By the time I show up it's a river of people, and the lines are already snaking around the downtown, blocks and blocks of people with more streaming in by the second. People with early morning faces and winter coats, lots of Obama-Biden stickers on baseball caps and pea coat lapels. Working class frumpiness prevails. Groups of adults with bunches of mixed race children, hospital workers, college kids, plenty of white men including myself, perhaps leaner and hungrier than the average, but also lots of slightly better dressed, scarves and fluffy coats, touristy looking couples coming up a little after the early birds. There is an entire city assembling and busloads beginning to be shuttled from the state office complex up on the Heights. Not too many on the buses, I notice. When the green-eyed lady in front of me says not to expect Clinton and Obama until 10:00 or 11:00, the prospect of no food for that long begins to gnaw at me. I cut my losses and jump out of line, walk away, don't look back, giving up my hard earned spot. I'm walking up the blocks, past thousands waiting for the show, for the appearance of the man of the hour. I'm feeling like a renegade. I'm that guy, yes, who decided coffee was a bigger draw than the future of the country.
For a few minutes I was part of the mass, the good people fighting the good fight, and the truth is I still am, but there is something about that energy, of being part of something so obviously larger than the sum of its parts. An army of good-humored, idealistic people. One thing I sensed in that line was determination. There is strength in numbers and we are strong. Well, maybe not me when it comes to breakfast. But who are we? In a deeply divided, polarized country, it is clear that our people are the fearless people of the now, not the people of what was once. We are continuing to put our money on change. It has been a long-time coming, and is still not showing its face fast enough for many, but it is in the air and unstoppable.
One caveat. The other guys, on the other hand, are to be feared. The willingness to play the country for chumps has been evident for decades. It has descended into criminality before, and it could do so again. The fact that nobody can pin down what policy platform Romney really represents, is truly frightening, given the context of historical Republican malfeasance and even recent anti-democratic moves like Citizens United. More learned observers than me point out the frightening similarities between what a Romney presidency would entail and the capitalist dictatorships of South Africa and Chile. Union busting, militaristic, resource gobbling countries governed in the interests of a small, corporate, international elite. Not that I believe Romney would descend to that level, but the tendencies are there. As evidence look to what he said behind closed doors in that Boca Raton dinner. Does anyone think that once in the White House he would not be pressed to kowtow to the likes of the Koch brothers and their ilk? Yes, Romney has been preaching bipartisanship in the last few weeks, but...why should anyone believe him?
For me, there are two men who have stepped up in recent days and decided that being an adult means showing that you care more about other people than you do about your own behind. Those two are Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Both those men show that when it comes to the actual push and shove provided by the real world, there is a chance for a bipartisan path forward out of this mess we are in.

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