2/10/16 Pick-up Trucks and Politics

We all face struggles. Some are far more severe than others. Our struggles may pale in comparison to the struggles of others, and likely do if we will pause to consider those others and compare their life or death struggles with our own. Nevertheless, our personal struggle sometimes seems insurmountable to us. The hard struggle is the one we are caught up in at the moment. Yesterday’s struggle, and the struggles of others, no matter how severe, are far away from us: a thought, a passing sadness, an intellectual memo to ourselves: a fleeting thought that we are glad not to be involved in their struggle as the thought of our own forces out any ideas of the struggles of others. Our minds are built that way.

At this instant my greatest struggle seems to be trying to write something when I am empty. This is a struggle many writers face from time to time.

Where is inspiration? Where does it come from? Why is it missing?

There is inspiration in politics…but there is no profit in writing about it. Plenty of others are doing a remarkable job of writing about the presidential election, working hard to spin things so that it seems things are going their candidate’s way, when it is obviously not. I do know this….historically, early leaders in presidential primary politics seem to fall by the wayside before the primary season is over. This may be something for people to remember as their candidate waxes and wanes in the results of endless polling, re-polling, and more polling.

A popular news website I visit regularly has a new poll every day, tempting its readers with a free e-mail newsletter if they take the poll. First off, I don’t want a free e-mail newsletter further murking up an already murky e-mail in-box, and secondly, just what is it that this poll may reveal? That the readers of a politically slanted website poll as expected?

If the entire broadcast and web media were condensed into one pan of wheat and chaff, the first bit of winnowing in a still wind would drive off the bulk as the chaff it is, leaving a few uninteresting kernels of useful wheat, and among them a few worms and bugs that must be picked out by hand, being too fat to be driven out by a mere toss into a still sky.

I read the typical conservative sites, as you might expect, but I also read The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Politico, Real Clear Politics, Salon, Slate, and occasionally The Daily Kos (just so I can be shocked). It is important to know what others are thinking, spinning, weaving, though the others think, spin and weave no less or no more that some of the conservative sites I read.

In today’s media climate, there is no way for a moderate, factual reporting media outlet to survive, as we have all become addicted to tabloid journalism. Even our bastions of media gravitas, like the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, are given to this, and seem to have no memory of things they editorially supported just a few years, or even months ago, are at polar opposition to today’s editorials. I can see having shifts in views, but polar shifts seem a bit extreme for anyone, at least by my way of thinking.

In former times, one of the greatest ways to separate folks was by the question, “Ford or Chevy?” Of course, there were the MOPAR folks out there, but no one paid them much attention. It was mostly Ford or Chevy.

I was a die-hard Ford man, swearing by them…refusing to consider for a single instant, having a mind as firmly made up as a Victorian spinster’s idea of the proper chaperoning of a willing young maiden, the possible benefits of a Chevy. Then one day, quite by accident, I wound up with a Chevy pick-up truck; I never looked back. Never was a transformation so sudden or so complete. I have not even considered a Ford since then, as I became aware of what Chevy owners had been saying into my deaf ears for years.

This brings me to a topic of political historical significance: Gerald Ford.

My readers, of course, will remember Gerald Ford. He was a good man, and benign enough to serve the country well after the shame of Richard Nixon, who, I think, other than his dishonesty and needless paranoia over George McGovern, was a pretty good president. I got to shake Gerald Ford’s hand once. He was the second President I got to meet. Nixon was the first.

But he was Gerald FORD! Having made the conversion, I just could not help being more that a bit hesitant. Back then, Mississippi was solidly in the Democrat camp…The Solid South as it was known then…an impenetrable blue wall resisting any GOP interlopers, mostly in national politics, but completely in local politics. The Republicans were the party of reconstruction, and if you think about it, it was the entrenched Democrat party that allowed Jim Crow and segregation. That thought angers many, and will be debated for years to come as the Democrats were then changing along with the nation. It was what it was.

But Gerald FORD!!! It was the first election I was old enough to vote in…1976. And my choice was between Gerald FORD…a Michiganer, and a Republican, as well as one who was alleged to have played too many football games without a helmet, his football trick knee forcing numerous trips and falls all caught on camera and played back in slow motion on the evening news, and Jimmy Carter, a Georgian, a fellow Southerner, one who had succeeded in reducing the size of the state government as Georgia’s governor.

I looked closely at the two candidates and fretted. Had Carter’s name been Chevy, it would have been easy. “At least his last name started with a ‘C’”, I had thought to myself.

FORD and Carter? When I got to the polls on the second Tuesday of November in 1976, I did the only thing I could, holding my nose and wincing as I pulled the lever on the voting machine in my polling place in my hometown hamlet of Lauderale, Mississippi.

It was, perhaps, the last time I would ever choose a Ford

©2016 Mississippi Chris Sharp

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