Grow Up Time, ’16

You old Facebook hands probably knew this years ago …

Ask yourselves: What would Eleanor Do?
… but I’ve only recently figured it out. Facebook is not only preaching to the choir; Facebook is where the entire choir attends a common potluck dinner three times a day, complete with photos of the tuna casseroles and cherry pies the proudest cooks have prepared. Facebook is where they all—from the sopranos to the bassos—go out for a drink together after rehearsal. It’s the coffee klatch where they trade pictures of their grandkids, brag about the fishing trip they just got back from, giggle together over everything from cute puppies to new hair-dos. It’s the choir bulletin board where they wish one another happy birthday, express how sorry they are for your loss, congratulate you on your new selfie/promotion/baby, pat one another on the back for all the brilliant observations you are making. No, Facebook isn’t merely preaching to the choir. It is the choir, the choir loft, the choir music, the choir robes, the choir performance schedule, and everything the choir does even when it’s not being a choir.

And it is clearly where the choir goes to preach politics to itself. Understand, I have never been on Facebook when there wasn’t a presidential election going on, but it would seem to me, judging from my three months (or so) in the mix, that it is the largest part of what my Facebook friends have on their minds—politics. They are obsessed with politics, and who can blame them? So am I … at the moment. Nor is it any wonder that I and the greatest share of my friends—most of whom I wouldn’t know if I were sharing a urinal with them—are obsessed in the same key. My Facebook choir is overwhelmingly singing the YAH CLINTON!-BOO TRUMP! chorus. And if you are reading this, chances are excellent your choir is singing the same tune—assuming you and I aren’t in the same choir anyway.

Yes, there is the occasional whiner who continues to insist Hillary stole it from Bernie, that she’s every bit as bad as the “Orange Anus” (as Rosie O’Donnell has it), and that the real progressives can show their purity only by opting for Jill Stein.  But who listens to them? Every choir has a prima donna or two who stomps off the risers and throws a hissy fit when they don’t get to sing the solo part, right?

What you will not find in my choir is anyone singing the YAH TRUMP!-BOO CLINTON! refrain. And it’s not hard to understand why: Because I chose my choir-mates carefully. I’m still discovering different things one can do with Facebook to screen out the screechers, but the first thing I do when picking a potential friend is find out who their friends are. I’m sure you did it too, when locking in your particular barn of buddies. If this guy is good enough for Garry Goodheart and Sally Sweetsoul …  for instance … he’s good enough for me, by golly.

And of course, we examined their pictures carefully, didn’t we? Anyone holding an AR-15, draped in a “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, and/or posing with a dead animal of any variety did not make my cut. (I left trout and salmon and fish in general out of that last qualification. Why we have decided it’s okay to show off one’s 16-inch dead cut-throat, and not okay to be squatting next to the magnificent head of Leo the dead Lion is an ethical question I am not prepared to address at this moment. All I know is, I can get along just fine without hearing from any big game trophy hunters. But if I threw all the anglers out of my life, I would be one mighty lonely man.)

The point (which I would have made sooner were I not the sort of writer who enjoys stretching things out) being: Facebook is where we go to find like-minded people and to weed out the realities we don’t want to face. For example: the reality that, no matter how many glowing tributes to her show up on my Facebook table, Hillary is not going to win in Idaho.

And worse: that a sizeable majority of the people you and I live with … work with, share neighborhoods and restaurants and movie theaters and dance floors with. deal with in a thousand different ways from day to day … are going to vote for the “Orange Anus.” It wouldn’t surprise me if the Anus gets his biggest margin of victory in our state, no matter what he is accused of, implicated in, proven to have done, or threatens he will do.

This is intensely discouraging to me. To think I am surrounded by such thoughtless nimrods.

And it is more than a little depressing, to think that all the effort I have expended over two decades to influence, even just a teeny-tiny bit, the political tenor in my home state has been for naught. That in Idaho, the nimrods always prevail.

Okay then, with that said—and off my chest—I’m going to continue on, preaching to my little choir, as always. The following is a Boise Weekly column I wrote over eight years ago (Jan. 2, 2008) the first time I backed Hillary for President. Rereading it, I find a few things are dated—I am particularly hard on (MSNBC’s) Chris Matthews; he is better now—but it still says what I feel about the first woman leader of this land.

(If I have perhaps stretched things out a bit too much for you today, you could save the rest for tomorrow, eh?)

  • * * *

Grow Up Time

Why we need Hillary for president

As NASA prepared to launch the Pioneer 10 deep space probe in 1972, Carl Sagan (among others) convinced them to send along a little Earth tutorial for whomever… whatever… might come across the lonely machine out there in the void. They attached a plaque to the outer surface on which was a symbol for hydrogen (the most common element in the universe), a map of where Sol is in relation to fourteen cosmic landmarks, and a rendering of our solar system indicating the third planet from the sun as the launch pad. Standing to the side are a man and woman, naked. The right hand of the man is raised (we can only hope in a gesture of greeting or friendship, and not in what some species might take as a universal “Yo’ Momma… !”) and the woman is just standing there, arms placidly at her side. To alien eyes and alien intellects, she could as easily be the man’s favorite pet, or his preferred food source, as his mate.

Sagan himself sketched the original design. Were he still alive, I would love to ask why he didn’t depict both the man and the woman with their arms raised in that hopeful gesture. “Carl, what harm would it have done to draw those two humans as equals?”

I’m not criticizing him. Sagan was too good a human to be intentionally dismissive by showing this first woman to leave the solar system as a docile by-stander to the accomplishments of her companion. Besides, this was 1971. Feminism was to most people a new phenomenon, and we had yet to learn just how insecure and frightened and belligerent so many men would become over the prospect of having to share in full the credit for civilization with their mothers and sisters, wives and daughters.

As the subtitle suggests, I’m pulling for Hillary Clinton. Until very recently, I had intended to avoid endorsing any one of the Democratic hopefuls over the rest. I like them all, from Hillary and Obama down the slope to Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich, and I am content that any one of them would make a better president than any of the Republicans running, let alone that disgrace to all humanity we’ve endured for the last seven years.

But something came up. It started back when that woman in New Hampshire asked of John McCain, “How do we beat the bitch?” and McCain—who sells himself as being brave and honorable—only laughed.

Then last month, Bill Moyers interviewed two academics who have followed closely not only the deluge of hateful filth that mad dogs on the Internet are spewing at Hillary, but the subtle bias of the major news mouths as they harp on her pantsuits, her laugh, her hair or the hint of cleavage. Hillary’s critics will swear like guilty children that their objections to her have nothing to do with her sex. Yet even if that were true, the attacks on her almost invariably have more to do with personal mannerisms than policy substance, and no other candidate—not in this election or any in my life time—has been singled out more for personal mannerisms than Hillary.

We can expect nothing better from stunted assholes like Rush Limbaugh and Tucker Carlson when they warn to “put your testicles in a lockbox” (the former), or “She makes me feel castrated” (the latter). But I admit I had made the mistake of once thinking MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was an adult. How wrong I was. When Hillary behaves exactly like any other politician running for office, Matthews calls her petty and strident and manipulating. He seems more concerned with her “cackle” than he does her plans for health care. When she was unclear in her response about driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, he pounced as though she was the only politician to ever equivocate on an answer, and when Obama rolled even with her in the polls, Matthews took it as proof that her personality is unpalatable to the American heart and soul.

Matthews isn’t the only notable news personality to treat Hillary differently than the other candidates, of course, but he has come to typify (for me) the faux-alpha male smugness that says, implicitly, “Who the hell does she think she is!” And then, when accused of assaulting her for either her femininity, or lack of it, they wail, “What’s wrong? Can’t she take it like a maaaaan ?”

That’s why America needs a woman president—to once and for all move this country beyond the puerile prejudice that women, by virtue of being women, don’t qualify. And Hillary is the only woman running.

There is no question that attitudes have matured in 35 years, since NASA sent that picture of Man and his less-significant other into eternity. But even while most American men have come to accept women as co-equals in everything from the shop floor to the boardroom—from boot camp to the Pentagon and from the school board to the Senate—there festers in too many men a terror of ambitious, independent women. Of women who can get along just fine, thank you very much, without them.

I doubt these men will never grow up. Their primordial instincts will dictate that they behave like huffing, puffing baboon kings until they die, and the methods they use to assert their delusions will be around as long as they live: derision, demeaning names, domestic battery, rape, murder, racism, violence—everything bigger beasts do to smaller beasts.

But America cannot afford not to grow up. For too long, our nation has been behaving like a testosterone-drunken Bubba-boy, pissing indiscriminately on the terrain to mark his territory. If I am right—if my sense that so much of our current malaise stems from the illusion that acting tough is the same as being strong—then the path to redemption must include rubbing Bubba’s nose in his own fear and loathing.

I will not say whether Hillary is the absolute best choice for president. I can’t, nor can anyone else, know that. But for America at this juncture of our history, at this critical point in our growth, she is the best gender. Being an abusive Father has gotten us nowhere. Time to try the strong Mother.

And if I am right, only women can prove my point. Democrat women, Republican women, independent women, American women—ladies, you can join Limbaugh and Matthews, harp on Hillary’s personality, and wait for a more “palatable” woman to run—but only if you don’t mind too much that your daughters and granddaughters are the next to be laughed at as “bitches.” If these fearful men get away with doing what they’re doing to Hillary, it will be at least another generation before a woman dares try it again.