March 8, 2016

Kind of Like Picking At A Scab

All of us have had the experience of suffering a cut or scrape that generates a scab as it heals. And, I'm pretty sure all of us have had at least one of these things that we pick at until it falls off. The wound reopens and the healing process must start again. Silly and pointless, but very human.

I am experiencing something very much like that now and I have as much insight about this behavior as I do over picking at a scab.  It is driving me crazy, stressing me out, and causing nightmares. I know it is not good for me, but I can't help myself.

What is it? Reading political news and commentary, watching debates and analysis, and asking myself unanswerable questions. Worrying about the fate of our country, our place in the world, the future we are leaving our grandkids, the quality of our life in the short and long-term.....all of it. 

Why? All of my scab-pulling, all my uneasiness, all my fretting will have absolutely no impact on whatever the outcome will be. Eventually things will sort themselves out and we will survive, I keep telling myself. But, that doesn't keep me from paying attention to stuff that upsets me.

credit: CNN.com
On the Republican side, we may be watching the disintegration of the GOP. With such extreme positions staked out by the two leading candidates, the moderate center of the party is left adrift. Many minorities and women are heading for the exits. 

Can any of us remember a time when we didn't want children watching and listening to how some of these men comport themselves on television? Has there ever been an election cycle when the leadership of the party spends $10 million in just one state (Florida) to blunt the fortunes of the person who is in the lead? 
Credit: WSJ.com

Things aren't much better on the other side of the aisle, or should I say, wall. One candidate is an avowed socialist who is very much in favor of some serious spanking of Wall Street and those who make a lot of money. I tend to agree with him that  the middle and lower class in this country have been royally screwed over by the infamous 1%. But, I am not sure gutting such a key part of our economy is doable or wise.

The other candidate has the advantage of being in position to be our first female president, if all her legal issues don't get in the way. Again, I can't remember a time when someone who is one party's leading candidate is perceived to be dishonest and less than truthful by a majority of Americans.

Knowing all this, I still pick at that scab. I watch the debates of both parties and yell at the candidates and moderators for never answering the questions or asking obvious follow ups. I am embarrassed at the spectacle of grown men interrupting each other or making seriously inappropriate comments about each other.

I start each day by checking the headlines to see if something even more grotesque has happened while I slept. I watch some of the news channels around dinner time to get caught up on the latest slow motion car wreck of our political landscape. I worry about the hidden meaning of caucus results or straw polls. 

Why can't I stop watching, reading, and listening? Why can't I just let it be whatever it will be? I guess it is part of the human condition to watch TV coverage of weather disasters or want the details on riots in some far-flung corner of the world. It is why disaster movies make lots of money in the theaters.

In 1976 there was one movie produced in the United States that had a super hero as the star. In 2014 there were 30. Does that say something about us and our need for someone to rescue us from our fears and insecurities? Is that why I keep hurting myself with political obsession: waiting for someone to rescue us from ourselves?

I don't know, but it is driving me 'round the bend.


Please, be over!



39 comments:

  1. Don't worry Bob. If we all survived 8 years under Obama, I am certain we all will survive 8 years under Trump. Get used to it. Trump is going to be our next president.

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    1. You read it here first! It is going to be a wild next 7 months.

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  2. I watched a couple of the first debates but then got bored -- they're very repetitive and mostly irrelevant. Does that mean I am healed? Or got my head in the sand. I dunno. But I'm operating under the assumption that we'll elect Hillary Clinton, and thus kick the can of all our problems down the road.

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    1. Isn't that pretty much what presidents and especially Congress have done for the last few decades?

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  3. I'm with ya,Bob. I can't bear to watch the debates all the way through anymore and I fear for our beautiful nation. These are crazy times,for sure! I worry in small doses. Then I try to forget about it for a bit.I do check Huffington Post about 10 times a day to see what's up.. no sense in that, but I do it anyway. Time will tell. Going to Canada won't help-- if we elect a volatile President who has a finger on that button and starts World War 3, no one can escape!! I have to believe that it just can't happen.

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    1. I am thinking an island in the South Pacific - I don't do well in cold anymore!

      I actually deleted Huff Post from my phone because I was obsessively checking it for the latest updates multiple times a day.

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    2. Bob
      I live on a big island on the other side of the world. I only see the "highlights" but it looks to me like a very badly scripted reality TV show. Nothing to do with me except if he became president he would have such a large war machine at his disposal --- then it stops being funny.

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    3. The thought of his finger on the nuclear button, or the ability to send our citizens into harm's way to prove what a man he is, is terrifying.

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  4. What is scarier than the orange man is the ones who follow him. He is setting precedents in vulgarity in politics and when he's gone the followers, freshly emboldened, will still be here. What bothers me even more is those who still think Mr.Obama is the anti-Christ after all he's done cleaning up W's messes. I understand your obsession, Bob, I have been the same way. Now I'm just fed up with it all. Bottom line, EVERYONE MUST VOTE!
    b

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    1. I was thinking back to earlier election cycles. I know I was upset in both 2000 and 2004 about some of the things that happened. This cycle seems much worse to me and truth seems to be a less important commodity.

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  5. Oh come on! Which politician has not been vulgar? I taught students during the Clinton impeachment trials. Talk about vulgar! @@ And how long can you blame W for the mess we are in? 50% African American unemployment is nothing to sneeze at. Let's just face it and say we have loads of work to do on US. We need jobs in the cities again. We need to figure out this education thing. We need to figure out how to be independent, or how to gain many more people who are interested in joining the military.
    The best part about debates (which have been on our TV screen every chance we can get) is seeing three first generation Americans make their way through a rigged system. I hope that one of them wins- because we just need to move. My least favorite match up is two ultra wealthy New Yorker running against each other. Let the games begin!

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    1. This post is about my inability to tear myself away from the political chatter of the current situation. I don't think I made any reference to George W. Bush or even Bill Clinton since this isn't about failures or successes in the past. It is about feeling overwhelmed by what is happening right now from both parties.

      As an aside, even at the depth of his poor approval rating, George W. was still completely supported by his party's leadership. They didn't try to defeat him or distance themselves from his problems. That isn't the case this year and I find that fact both fascinating and scary.

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  6. Bob, I've been feeling the same way as you do. I've resolved to start trying to understand the people who think differently than me by engaging them in conversation about why they believe the way they do. And I've thought about what I believe and where it came from. I want to use reason rather than emotion. I can only try to bridge the divide one person at a time, without anger, hurtful words, lofty superiority or codecension. I believe we all have more in common and have a responsiblity to pursue those shared beliefs and be an example of what we want our country to be in our own backyards. Easy said, hard to do.

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    1. Isn't emotion what is driving a good part of the upheaval we are witnessing? Facts and logic are less a part of the equation than I can ever remember. How to do you talk with someone who is operating with an entirely different reality?

      I expect things will get back on course a bit for the general election campaign. Fingers crossed.

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  7. Oh Bob, I hear you. I keep trying to remind myself that at one time, Ronald Reagan was ridiculed as being the Bedtime for Bonzo politician. Remember? And he turned out to be a pretty class act. Not that we can anticipate any classiness here, but one can only hope. What also concerns me is that, because of all the disappointment in the nature of our candidates, this may in fact be the "year of apathy," in which none of us turn out to vote - and that would be even worse. Well, time to go vote in the primary. Mine is one of the four states today - wish me luck!

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    1. Nancy Reagan's passing a few days did remind me of a very different time in our country. Agree or disagree with him, and her, they were a class act who treated others with respect and civility.

      Unfortunately for my blood pressure, I will be watching the final results tonight of the four states voting or caucusing today.

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    2. I have been thinking about Reagan's election, too, but in a very different way. I worked as a government employee in California when Reagan was governor; and, for those with eyes to see, he was already showing signs of dementia. I thought the world had ended when he was elected and that the country would never survive. And yet, not only did the country survive, but he is now remembered as a great President. -Jean

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    3. You weren't the only one who thought the world had ended when Reagan was elected. Check out the first comment in this clip from Springsteen from the day after the 1980 election.

      Now, if he thought Reagan was frightening, what would he be thinking tonight about the prospect of The Donald occupying the White House?

      Clinton vs. Trump is the definition of lose/lose, IMO.

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  8. It's kind of hard to avoid unless I escape to an isolated place for the next 8 months with no TV, newspapers, internet connection, radio etc. I keep reminding myself that I get one vote in the primary and one vote on election day and then I'm done. This is the craziest election season! Just plain insane! As I once heard "you can't make sense out of nonsense."

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    1. Avoiding it all is not possible, and if that means not voting and not caring, that is worse. But, I will be glad to join you on an island somewhere and we can vote absentee.

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  9. I feel the same way. It actually makes my stomach churn. Unfortunately in my bewilderment I was engaging in some name-calling and even questioning the intelligence of certain voters. Nothing like getting down in the gutter with them, is it? My solution is that I have stopped watching politics on TV and I avoid checking online. If my husband has it on, I go in another room and turn the music up. Right now I have Spotify cranked up to drown out the primary results in the other room. I try to politely avoid political discussions even with my husband who is a political junkie. It took a few days to break the habit, and I still think about it once in awhile and can feel my throat tighten, but generally I am much happier. Sad as it is, I tell myself it does no good to worry about something that I cannot change. Hang in there, Bob. This, too, shall pass. But who knows what we will be left with.

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    1. Betty and I just finished watching an episode from the new season of House of Cards...not the best choice to get away from politics, but at least I wasn't watching the latest from tonight's results.



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  10. I am finding it helpful to take a historical perspective on American politics. We tend to look at our political history through the rose-tinted lenses of idealism -- but, in fact, American politics have usually been rough and tumble and often irrational. One of our founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, was killed in a duel with a political opponent, and there was a time when congressional debates often devolved into fisticuffs on the floor of the House. In the 1850s, there was a "Know-Nothing" party, an anti-immigrant movement of angry white Protestant men. The Republican Party came into being in the mid-19th century as the Whig party imploded. Maybe if the current Republican Party disintegrates, we will end up with a new, more moderate and mainstream replacement. -Jean

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    1. Sometimes on the BBC I hear a snippet from a meeting in the British House of Commons. Those folks really yell and mutter and don't keep their feelings bottled up. Our Congress sounds rather tame in comparison to the British.

      It is interesting that the Republican and Democratic parties have completely swapped political positions and appeal since each was founded. Who knows what the future holds, though I doubt a third party will ever become enough of a factor to change our two party approach.

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  11. I have not gotten bogged down in the morass as much as you have for a simple reason, Bob - I have refused to watch any debate featuring either party. I can already tell you the Democratic Party talking points (tax the rich, government can be all things to all people, etc) as well as the Republican (the country has gone downhill over the last eight years, stop illegal immigration, etc) without being nauseated watching them voiced on TV. I vote, including the recent primary here in TN, but my vote means nothing. Our state will vote Republican, just as surely states like NY, CA and others will vote Democratic; my vote means nothing other than a vote for one party and a repudiation of the other.

    I keep up on the primary results on my phone or on the web, but other than that, have kept somewhat distant. To be honest, it has been much better that way. In fact, I stopped the email back and forth with my bat-shyte crazy liberal brother, and that has helped as well. If you divorce yourself somehow from the chatter, it will save you the money from not having to move to that expensive island out in the ocean somewhere.

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    1. Good for you. I guess the answer is having will power. I will not watch the Democratic debate tonight nor the Republican one tomorrow, both from Miami. What's the point? I will learn nothing new and neither will anyone else.

      My immediate family and I are politically on the same page, while my relatives in other parts of the country are the polar opposites, so I guess we just cancel each other out.

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  12. Bob, I wanted to commend you on your reasoned and balanced comments on the current political circus that is taking place. It is a rare occasion to hear commentary that isn't biased to one extreme or the other - reflecting perhaps the same events we see each night on the political news channels.

    I'm approaching retirement now, and it is interesting how my interest in politics has increased. Like you I am concerned, given the antics of the republicans, if our nation could soon face a self created crisis. We need the balance of a two party system to keep level, but it seems one side is intent on self destruction.

    Keep up the good commentary, and save me a seat on the boat to your refuge island.

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    1. My daughter is on Kauai at the moment for a business trip. I am ready to join her!

      Thanks for noticing. I leave the pot-stirring to other blogs.

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  13. What I can not believe is that in this great country with all the brilliant and talented people we have, our two choices look like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. REALLY!

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    1. It does seem we should be able to produce better leaders. I guess we lay equal blame with the political system we have allowed to develop and our own search for simple solutions to complex problems.

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  14. You have to limit your exposure. You don't want to be an ostrich with your head in the sand but too much 2016 politics will drive you round the bend. I find it less upsetting to read my political news than to listen to it or watch it. Decide who you are supporting and know why you support them and let it go at that. IMHO.

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    1. I agree, reading something is (usually) better. But, it is all too important to ignore completely.

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  15. But aren't we getting the exact candidates we demand, based on our criteria for politicians? We vet them from their TV performances, how "entertaining they are" (debates). Their exposure is driven by "secret money" from unknown donors (Citizens United). They MUST appeal to the rigid dogma of their party, or be excoriated by the spokesmen of their base (Rush Limbaugh).

    We are getting exactly what we ask for .....

    (Apologies for the deleted replies ... still learning how to post)

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    1. Things do tend to become more mature and reasonable as we move into the general election phase of things.

      But, the unfortunate reality is that the over-the-top primary stuff ends up picking the two choices in the genetal election.

      And, yes, our choices are determind by what we ate looking for, reasonable or not.

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  16. Bob, I'm late to this discussion, but I had to comment. Picking a scab is such a great analogy for the constant urge to keep up with this election cycle. It's all just off the rails IMO and yet I can't stop reading about it. Luckily, we have gotten rid of cable, so I can only see the network news or PBS Newshour (where they are pretty calm most nights).

    The thing that is frightening me is the ramping up of violence and violent talk at the Trump rallies. Although I wasn't a McCain fan, I give him full points for calling out the people in his crowds in 2008 when they started to say untrue and/or really inflammatory things. I suppose that might be because he himself had been a victim of a smear campaign earlier in his life re: his adopted daughter. Nonetheless, it made him look like the adult in the room.

    People seem to think we need a bully to take charge. They won't like it when the bully turns on them.
    ---Hope

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    1. The violence at the Trump rallies and the professed hate of the media, all while using it to pursue his goals, is so transparent yet no one seems to really care. If he becomes president, don't hold your breath for press conferences, an open door policy, or much in the way of disagreement or spirited discussion.

      I don't understand the constant coverage coupled with a complete lack of respect shown to the "Fourth Estate." If you feed the beast you can't really complain about his strength.

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  17. The near riots at the Trump rally tonight had no winners. The protesters inside the venue stopped Mr. Trump's right to address his followers. At the same time the Trump campaign has not no subtly encouraged violence against those who are exercising their first amendment rights.

    Nothing good can come from both sides losing respect for each other and acting out their worst impulses. This has got to stop or it is going to tear us apart. Both sides tonight were very wrong.

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  18. The protesters don't know anything about politics.The rally is for supporters who come to listen.not for protesters to come in and butt in.

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    1. I disagree. When someone is running for president he or she is going to attract those who disagree with some of the positions the candidate has taken. It is our First Amendment right to disagree publicly. I think they know quite a lot about politics and their rights in this country.

      What is not acceptable is the disruption of an event by the protests, or the violent and harsh means anti-protesters use to quiet them. Both sides had best show some respect for the Constitution and rules of public discourse before the fabric of our society is severely damaged.

      It does not help matters at all when the candidate incites the audience and not so subtly urges them to take inappropriate actions.

      Just to be clear: both sides in a situation like Chicago were wrong. But, never forget that to protest is a basic right and must be protected. If you are running to be head of the local Elks Lodge, then be as private as you want. When you decide to run for president, you cannot only face those who believe in you. That is not how our country works.

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