Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Crazy Quilt of America's Election 2010

Director Frank Capra, with Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur on the set of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the great fillibuster scene, Stewart, near collapse says: "Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties .."

I think this election is an absolute corker! Frank Capra, the great director, would be rubbing his hands with glee to see the stories he told in his movies coming true right before his eyes.

Candidates are out mud wrestling with one another, money is flowing like wine into ads, and voters have, nevertheless, managed to keep their eyes on the ball. As survey after survey shows, voters are asking themselves; is this candidate going to be good for the country?

Not a professional politician? Jeez, look how the pros have done!

Race after race is too close to call, as Americans listen and learn.

What would the Founding Fathers say, we are asking, about all these things Congress has been up to? Bank bail-outs and health-care bills? Foreclosure freezes during election time? Is this what we ought to be doing? What do these new laws mean? What is in them, exactly? How will the debt impact our children?

These are intelligent questions, and since we're paying the bills we deserve answers.

I've heard commentators say we are at the worst crisis in our history. What a bunch of bunk! Worse than the Civil War? Worse than the Great Depression? Worse than World War II? Don't be ridiculous. America is big enough and optimistic enough and full of enough entrepreneurs to overcome even the worst excesses of the greedy bankers and clueless politicians who got us into this. Ninety percent of Americans are working, and ninety percent of Americans are not defaulting on our mortgages. But yes, we are concerned, as well we might be.

And that amazing thing our forefathers came up with--our Constitution--still figures in our debate. What a wondrous thing!

This week in Virginia, a judge heard arguments regarding the new Obamacare law that would require citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Judge Henry Hudson said he would (according to the Washington Post) determine whether: "Congress can regulate an individual's inactivity--a person's decision to go without health insurance--under its constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce."

There are fifteen other lawsuits on this issue across the country. This will go all the way up to the Supreme Court and the decision will impact each and every American.

I won't be able to take my eyes off the television on Election Night.

Because on this Election Night, the first one I've seen since 1980, we aren't falling for slogans. We are looking for the meaning behind the slogans. Lawyers say there is something special about a jury of twelve good people and true. And so it is--eventually--with the American people in the sacred space of the voting booth.

The plotline is better than a mystery by Agatha Christie and about a thousand times as important. And we're writing it. Just exactly the way our Founding Fathers planned.

We're voting it--something that is still a very rare and privileged thing in this world.

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