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Friday, May 06, 2016

Political Junkie-Hood!

I would describe myself as a "political junkie." But if I am a "political junkie" I am an optimistic, somewhat happy and naive one. I do tend to give folks the benefit of the doubt. I tend to judge politicians on their actions more than their words. I don't get jaded or cynical if someone falls or betrays our trust. I know that human beings are weird.

Anyway, how did I get to be a such a self-defined "political junkie?" I was thinking about this all day yesterday. I tried to come up with answers for myself, to myself. I kind of think of these as foundational.

Two early novels that I read as a youngster come to mind, "Treasure Island," and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." They were probably the two most profound books I read when I was young and very impressionable. 

What did I learn? Some times the "Bad Guys" aren't really bad, and, America is a dark, scary place.

I was a wee lad when RFK was murdered. That had a major impact on my family. A young, charismatic Catholic gunned down after winning the California primary. I remember my mom and dad going to sleep so happy that RFK won in CA. The next morning, in the car on the way to school, my mom and I heard that RFK was dead. I was totally shocked to see my mom cry for RFK. I cried too.

Lesson learned. What you hope happens doesn't always happen. And things can change in an instant.

Then there were Chicago Cops beating up kids in Grant Park. We moved to a small town in Wisconsin that summer and I was considered a "Chicago Gangster." Lesson learned: Other people have no clue who you really are.

Later I discovered Hunter S. Thompson. I remember reading his dispatch from the Republican Convention in Miami when Richard Nixon was renominated for a 2nd term. CREEP! I read some of his writing to my creative writing class. I was shy, my voice was shaking, and I was reading HST's ramblings out loud to a class of kids who had no idea what I was talking about. I felt foolish, but at the same time I felt I knew something they didn't. Lesson learned: There are many realities all co-existing. My world, might not be your world, but that's ok.

Vietnam & Watergate. Right. Those words hold so much meaning to me. Lesson learned: My America is sometimes evil, Presidents are no different than any one else and they can fall.

For some reason, I think these are the signal events in my political junkie-hood. Of course, since then, many events, many books, many elections, etc. 

Am I jaded & cynical when it comes to politics? I don't think so. I mean, it's much more complicated than that. Yes am a bit surprised that the Short Fingered Vulgarian has had so much success, but I wasn't surprised when Bernie's socialist crusade fizzled out. 

Still. I am optimistic. Naive. Hope for the best. Jaded and cynical? Nope. It's all a bit more complicated than that...

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