Well, I think it’s fair to say most of this election season has had us looking askance at the cast of characters lining up be “leader of the free world,” which should have most of the free world looking for the nearest spaceship. Unfortunately spaceships are in short supply, and Ben Carson won’t share his (badoom-bing). Sorry, too easy… let’s aim higher, people.
Yes, that joke was a symptom of a problem that I think has led to someone like Donald Trump winning elections left and right (mostly right). I’ve been complaining for nigh upon two decades now about how television — and not just the medium itself but really the race to the bottom promoted and celebrated by too much of the programming — insults and diminishes the intelligence of viewers. Upon voicing this opinion, I was usually told to relax and just accept that “entertainment” doesn’t have to be smart or make anyone smarter, people just want something easy to “veg out” to sometimes. But sometimes quickly becomes all the time, I think, and after years and years of reality television and other ill-conceived programming, we get a reality television star making things up as he goes along in a national election and winning votes. Now sure, we can’t trace all of this election’s nightmares back to the moment Friends became a widely accepted, watered down version of Seinfeld… but I do submit that was the start of something vastly disappointing. Like the moment someone mapped out nine Fast and the Furious movies as a viable franchise. Or the moment the Rocky sequels turned into “a viable franchise.” Could the profit-motive be letting us down as a society???
Which is why I am watching with no small amount of shock, admiration and glee as Bernie Sanders wins votes across the country. Ok, not in the South. But across vast expanses of the north, east and west! I feel like just a few years ago it’s inconceivable that someone who didn’t shy away from the word “Socialist” could be getting more than 3-5% of the vote in a national election. But people across this country — myself included — are SO fed up with the petty, entrenched inaction in Washington that they are willing to swing wildly left and right, it seems, in search of anyone who hasn’t been part of the problem for the past many years. Granted, Bernie has been in Congress all this time, but when you look at how he’s voted and what he’s said, he’s been amazingly consistent and, as history has often shown, correct! He voted against the Iraq war, at a time when it was deemed unpatriotic to question that “response” to 9/11. I remember Democrat Ben Cardin coming to speak at my public policy program, and rather than engage in a serious discussion about Iraq, he started blustering about how quickly we would be able to decimate and take over that country with our superior military power. Seriously??? That was one telling view I had into how little difference there might be among the politicians there in Washington.
I’ve been thrilled to see Bernie making the points he has been making during this campaign. The leader’s job is to communicate a vision and set the agenda, and his authenticity and sense of fairness/equity is undeniable. Listening to one of Hillary’s speeches after a primary victory, I agreed with her message and got a sense that she genuinely cares about many of the same issues as well. But I’m not buying the argument that she is the more practical leader and will know how to get things done. Please. Last time I checked the Republicans don’t like the Clintons. I think they tried to impeach Bill over a sexual indiscretion (or maybe over lying about it?) and then more recently they are infuriated by Hillary’s private email server. Yeah, I’m done with the traditional approach which has devolved for many years now into Democrats and Republicans fighting and stonewalling like small children. No, more like siblings… who have lived with each other for too long and drive each other crazy. Yep, it’s time for a whole new family of leaders.
If there wasn’t a chance that Trump or one of his GOP compatriots could win in November, I’d truly be enjoying that side of the contest. Seriously, they’ve been a national embarrassment. The two frontrunners recently spatted over pictures of their wives? This is reality TV come to life. If life imitates art, we’ve let our most common art form sink to the lowest common denominator, and now life itself is sinking to that level.
Then at the same time we’ve got Bernie questioning the very capitalistic principles upon which so much of our country has been built. And gaining traction with that message! It’s really a pretty amazing election.
Anyway, enough of the political diatribe. Busier than ever these days with work and the family. Homework takes a solid 1.5 hours after dinner each night, and that’s only if the kids decide to help me with it. I’m kidding. But making sure the kids do their homework requires near constant supervision. Then Syd is really taking to basketball of late, so she’s played in two different leagues already this year. I’m playing more music, with fellow dads mostly in Sharon — we all wear plaid shirts and old New Balance sneakers, we noticed recently. We may have our first gig coming up in May at a little high school-sponsored festival at the lake called “Jamnesty” — which coincidentally is the name of our new band. No, it’s not. We were calling ourselves a “jug band” for a while, aspiring to a back porch type of music making, but then we had to acknowledge the lewd connotations of the term (the lowest common denominator strikes again). Not sure that name will fly at Jamnesty. Also still making music with my former coworker — some recent recordings are posted here: http://www.reverbnation.com/ericfriedman. The Sharon group also plays that version of Free Fallin’, that song being not quite ruined for me by a teammate on my high school track team who called me Freefallin’ for an entire season.
Anyway, hope you all are well. I’m realizing my 20th college reunion is coming up, which means this mass email-now-blog harassment is at least 20 years old as well. As always, the secret has been a free subscription model plus a stiff cancellation fee. Something I should float by my man, Bernie, perhaps, as a model for free education through college? We wouldn’t be able to afford to be not educated. And as this election is showing, we can’t afford to not be educated. Till next time, vote with your heart, but vote.
P.S. I just remembered I titled this “red giant.” During a difficult moment with a client at work recently, I was thinking about how someone had just told me how one day the Sun will expand into a Red Giant and swallow up the Earth. This cheered me up immensely… I mean, it put into nice perspective how the painstaking set of deadlines the client wanted laid out and met over the course of our project would matter in the grand scheme of things. A coworker agreed commenting, “Yes, in the long run, we’re all dead.” I wanted to make that my signature line on my email as I replied to the client, but I refrained. Important to remain employed in the short-term… employed, and happier with some perspective.