Biff America: Paying tribute to the muscle of democracy
February 19, 2016
"There are two things a person should never be angry at: What they can control and what they cannot." — Plato.
You may call me crazy — many have — but politically, I'm not angry.
I honestly believe it is a tribute to the muscle of democracy when the current three top contenders for the most powerful political position in the world are a Jewish, Democratic socialist; a blustery businessman on his third wife with no political experience and a woman.
Let's just set Hillary Clinton aside for a moment. The smart money expected that she would be the Democratic choice. After all, she is the Grand Dame of one of the two existing political dynasties of the time (Clinton and Bush). But actually the fact that her nomination is not a "fait accompli" is something to delighted about. It suggests that the will of the people speaks louder than money and influence (the same could be said of Jeb Bush). To be clear, I'm not dissing on Hillary — far from it — but the fact that she is in the hunt is no surprise.
But when you consider that both Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders could be our next president, well, that is amazing. Now granted anyone who knows me could likely guess that if I had to choose between Sanders and Trump, I'd prefer Sen. Sanders. But if the truth be told, both have taken positions of which I find refreshing.
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What I find most astounding is that both Bernie and The Donald have bucked the system and beaten the odds and have toppled candidates far more established and mainstream. Now, granted, the nomination could very well be decided by super delegate votes (something that many disagree with), but perhaps we are entering a new age where, down the road, this, too, could change.
Norm, from the TV show "Cheers" was sitting on a barstool when someone greeted him with, "Hey Normmy, whaddya say?"
Norm replied, "Any cheap and tawdry thing that will get me a beer."
If you substitute "vote" for "beer," then that is what politics have become. It is difficult to know the true feelings of politicos, on both sides, as it seems they change their position to match the feelings of their audience. It is bracing to have candidates speak their mind and almost dare the America public not to support them.
The popular sentiment is that the reason why Sanders and Trump have been so successful is that the American public is ticked off. I don't doubt that, but I honestly don't understand why. Certainly there is huge room for improvement in this country. But for 240 years, we've been on a serious roll, and I can't think of a better place to live.
In a nutshell, if you were born white, healthy and in America, then stop your bellyaching. You have it better than 90 percent of the planet.
I can't think of a nation that has made such social, political and human rights gains. Just in my lifetime, we've gone from legalized segregation to a African-American president.
We have creed of people who have been persecuted since before the time of Christ and nearly exterminated by a German madman. Now this creed has their own nation (Israel) and also has a prominent place in every facet of government, arts and commerce in this country.
We have a gender of Americans who only got the right to vote, granted by the 19th Amendment, in 1920, and now a woman could, in fact, be our next president. And don't get me started on Rogain, Botox and Viagra … not that I use any of that stuff.
And if you ever had any doubt about the resiliency of our Constitution and the possibilities contained in our democracy, just consider what is happening now in American primaries.
Lest I get kicked out of my progressive, bunny-cuddling reading group, I will state that I believe "The Donald" is a brilliant pretender who caters to the angry yet uninformed and would be a horrible president. But I also think he would not be the worst we've ever had, nor would he (again because the power of our Constitution) be able do much damage. On the plus side, if elected, then he might cause those who are angry at the status quo to realize how good they've had it.
Again, I'm not angry, far from it.
We live in an amazing country with incredible opportunities. Yes, I wish we had more affordable health care, a smaller national debt and a more productive Congress. "In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve" — our votes speak more loudly than angry words. That said, I think things will change.
So to paraphrase Plato, don't get angry at what you can control (influence). Or to quote Trump referring to Rand Paul, "He is like a spoiled child with a nonfunctioning brain." (Not paraphrasing.)
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff's new book, "Mind, Body, Soul," is available at local shops and bookstores and at backcountrymagazine.com/store.