Friday, July 22, 2016
Presidential Race 2016 / Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton / So much talk. Why should I even bother? (Part 1)
I understand the offered wisdom from friends, acquaintances, as well as many of the ‘pundits’ (you know the media guys and gals who know everything) is to vote. If necessary, ‘vote for the one you dislike the least,’ but still vote. OK, I get that. But, this is for the President of the United States, not the local school board. Too bad they never put ‘none of the above’ on ballots. It would give many of us a chance to express our actual point of view. Well, I’m going to give you my opinion – although no one asked; and darn few will actually read this – fewer will care.
You see, it’s about my grandchildren (very young) and great-grandchildren (not yet born). This election is potentially an unusually historic time in American history; one for the books. Historians will study this election for decades, maybe centuries. This election could be considered to be an election like no other. The potential implications for all our futures could be, probably will be, significant. I’d like my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren to know what I thought. Hopefully, somehow, this will be saved for them – perhaps unlikely, but there is that possibility. But, understand, this is not going to be some clichéd dissertation on preserving the sanctity of their future. This is about communication – me to them.
I have often considered that I know so little about what my grandparents’ thought about anything. And, at this stage in my life, it kind of bothers me. I don’t know if my grandparents were particularly religious or not. I don’t know what they really thought about politics, parenting, relationships, music, almost anything – except the very basics of life: work, eat, a roof over their heads, and the ordinary human comforts of life. I don’t know if they ever voted. I don’t know much about their early life – only a few things. I don’t even know much about what they thought about me.
My grandparents, on my mother’s side, I knew quite well – sort of. My parents and I spent several years living with my grandparents while I was in grade school. Later they lived across the street; and, subsequent to that, always in the same town until their deaths. What was my grandfather like? He spoke little and worked hard on the small farm he had for many years. He could be cross with me, but never raised his voice. He sometimes showed a kindly nature, even instructive to me (particularly about animals and farming); and at other times he was downright mean, but never in a physical sense. It was the small things I remember. “You’re in my chair – get up and sit somewhere else.” “Don’t bother the pigs or the calves.” “Go feed the chickens – do something worthwhile with your time.” “You and your friends go play somewhere else.” Often times, when my grandmother, ‘Ma,’ heard those comments from ‘Pa,’ she quickly chastised him. It might be something like, “Just leave the boy alone and go do something constructive.” My grandfather never talked back. He just headed for the barn.
My grandfather came from a family of seventeen brothers and sisters. According to my grandmother, who knew all about his family, my grandfather’s father, my great-grandfather, was a despicable and cruel individual. Kids were expected to work, and work hard, from a very early age – or pack-up their few belongings and get the hell out. As a result, my grandfather had little in the way of what we might now consider to be a childhood.
My grandparents had many hard times – some of those times were told to me as lessons in how unfair and difficult life can be; how they lost their farm in Wisconsin and had to move West to work in the shipyards during World War II; and how, just before they moved West, their beautiful eighteen-year-old daughter died of 'blood-poisoning' and that they didn’t have enough money to buy her a headstone.
My grandfather, on my father’s side, told me that he was ‘born under a rock,’ and didn’t want to talk about his past life. For a small boy, the rock comment was memorable. He died when I was about eight or nine. I later learned that he left home at fourteen or fifteen, went to work in a logging camp, and never looked back. His early adulthood was remarkable by hard work and hard living, excessive drinking, cussing and two or three marriages. As a father, he was by all accounts, remote and showed little responsibility; as well as little interest in his sons and daughters. As a grandfather, he seemed kind and interested in me, but was known to drink too much. I had my first trip to a tavern when I was about six, accompanying my grandfather. My mother made it clear to him that was never to ever happen again.
Why did I bring any of this up relative to the current election? I suppose to show the contrast between then and now. Life has become so leisurely for many of us (not everyone of course, but most of us) that we have nearly unlimited time to think about and discuss the so-called ‘important issues’ like what Presidential candidate do we dislike the least; and should we even bother to vote. Friends can get downright testy about the issue.
And, for my grandchildren and my future great-grandchildren, so that they might not have to guess, I will tell them what I’m thinking about now.
To be continued…
PS: In case you are wondering, the picture above is Ma and Pa on their wedding day - April 16, 1911.