Order another round; change is good
I am Richard N. Carnes, and I approved this column
“George W. Bush is the anti-Christ!”
“Yeah, you bet. And John Kerry is the savior born in a Colorado manger and sent to Taxachusetts to deliver us all from the evil of ourselves.”
Most of my bar conversations don’t start this way. But hey, I have as much chance of choosing who is going to say what in a public setting as Kobe’s lawyer does of convincing him to stop claiming, “It’s all in God’s hands.” (This of course begs the question: Do we now have the opportunity to measure His hands, too?)
Sorry, digressing again, back to the conversation. …
“But he is! Everything in the world is going bad, and it’s all because of Bush! We need to get him out of office and put Kerry in! The sooner the better!”
“And what, pray tell, are you basing this simple-minded, over-exclamated, gross generalization upon?”
Nothing confuses a liberal more (or some conservatives, for that matter) than a simple demand for tangible proof.
“Gas prices keep going up! Americans are dying in the Middle East! The economy is tanking! Millions are unemployed! Medicare and Social Security are going broke! Poor people are starving! Rich people own everything! Kids ain’t learning nothing! Even milk prices are skyrocketing! And …”
“Here, have a nacho,” I offered while shoving the bean and cheese concoction toward his wide open mouth. Anything to stop the insanity.
I reached over with both hands around his ears, feigning an imaginary grasp, and snapped my wrists upwards, tossing the pretend item up, up and away.
“There,” I said, “that should help your perspective a little,” as I wiped my hands clean.
“Wah?” he mumbled while stuffing more chips and salsa between his lips.
“Those blinders you’ve been wearing. I just shed them from your person.”
My hesitancy at matching him drink for drink had caught up with me. Making my point would require a more eloquent form of beer-speak.
“I done took off the sideview eye patches from around yur head, you know, like they put on horses, so you could see sumthin’ other than straight ahead.”
Each word was pronounced slowly and distinctly, like explaining to an Eagle County commissioner why the future of development in Edwards is more important than which one of them drives the “greener” car.
“I am helping you see more than just what is straight in front of you.”
Washing down yet another mouthful with a long swig of barley and hops, my buddy said, “Ok, Poindexter, ‘splain yurself.”
So I did.
“Bush and Kerry are both men, nothing more, nothing less,” I said. “They both wake up, stretch, scratch their privates, go potty and then look at themselves in the mirror, picking at age spots here and there while contemplating the whiteness of their teeth. One gets dressed and goes to work as the undisputed leader of the free world, while the other puts his pants on with the intent to become the next in that position.
“Both are willing to put their lives, as well as their families, on the proverbial line for the benefit of the United States of America, which is a lot more than can be said for the 99.999 percent of us sitting on the sidelines, whether we cheer or jeer. Neither is inherently evil, and those who actually believe such nonsense need to look in the mirror before judging.
“As to your specific complaints, adjusted for inflation, gas prices are still cheaper than they were 50 years ago, three times as many Americans have died on American soil due to terrorism than have died in the Middle East, and the most recent unemployment statistics are lower than the averages during 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s.
“Medicare and Social Security have been going broke since the day they were both enacted, and nothing will reverse either without huge tax increases or very unhappy seniors. There will always be poor people and rich people in a democracy. Deal with it or move to China. Children do not and will not learn better by throwing money at public education. True education begins at home, and always will. Milk prices, as well as others, will continue to rise. It’s called inflation, and the economy cannot exist without it.
“Dirty air, dirty water, global warming, the Palestinian conflict, Sept. 11, corporate scandals, Timothy McVeigh, the latest killings in Fallujah and pre-marital sex on the CU campus are not the direct fault of President Bush any more than it is Kerry’s fault that his wife’s company has 57 out of 79 factories in foreign countries.”
I finally stopped to take a swig from my own beer.
“But we need change,” my friend pleaded before I could continue. “How can we ever hope for a better world if we can’t hope for change?”
“Change for the better is called progress,” I said. “But while negative change usually happens in an instant, positive change can take years, regardless of who is sitting behind a rectangular desk in an oval office. For real change, we must …”
“Nuff ranting for today there, Einstein. How ’bout we order light beer this time and change the subject?”
“Sure.” Change is good. Sometimes.
Weekly columnist Richard Carnes of Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org