Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Bickering Fiddlers

I got into a heated discussion yesterday on my Facebook page with a couple of fiddlers I've known since the early '70s. One of 'em is also a medical doctor, the other is a noted Hebrew scholar. I think they both live in the Chicago area, long a hotbed of fiddling, medicine, and Hebrew scholarship. I've been reading quite a lot of political thinking during this election season, which for me ended its first phase on Thursday when I went to town and was among the first to vote in this eddy of furniture production and chicken processing, western Chatham County NC.

This is definitely Trump territory, and Jesus territory as well. I've written before about the plethora of “Thank You Jesus” signage that has been multiplying like a case of measles all around our little quadrant of rurality. Every week I spot a few more. “Ah ha,” I think driving past the next yard. “Them too.” A few of the yards also sport Trump signs as well, though I'd say it's no more than a 1 in 5 ratio. I've seen nary a Hillary sign on the way to town, and other Democratic state candidates are also lacking notice in these parts. As you drive east, towards Chapel Hill and Pittsboro and Raleigh and Durham, the signage transforms like the trees of late October are doing right now, and Trump supporters keep their opinions to themselves.

I didn't talk politics at all while I stood in line to vote. There was a tiny, elderly woman behind me. She said voting started in Pittsboro at 8 AM, but she didn't want to drive over there. I believe she was actually mistaken in her belief, as I read that all NC early voting stations opened at 10 AM. That was at any rate the case where I voted.

I voted for every Democrat available, except the Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler. I don't really know why I voted for Steve. My job, which ended with the closing of the company I worked for on April 1 past, involved sitting for most of the work day in front of a massive scale which weighed trucks full of scrap metal, coming and going. On the scale's floating bar was a certification stamp, renewed every year or so, by the Great State of North Carolina. Certification days were interesting, involving a big truck full of silver weights which were moved to various measured points on the truck platform. I was expected to obtain identical read-outs at each stopping point. If this didn't occur, people had to crawl under the platform and bang on things. It was usually wet under there, and one time a great toad lived under there too, and would mess up the weighings by sitting on a piece of the equipment and then hopping off. At any rate, at the end of the process the scale got a new stamp. On it, at the bottom, was the name “Troxler.” He was a friend, familiar. As far as I knew, he'd done a good job. (He also affixed his stamp to all the gas pumps, certifying that they indeed pumped out a gallon of climate-altering elixir at the moment the gallon marker crossed zero, and that the price wheel and the fuel amount wheels were truly in sync.) Why not vote for Troxler? If we happen to experience a Democratic landslide in North Carolina this time round, I'll bet that Mr. Troxler will keep his job. I think my voting logic is typical. There are many reasons to turn out our Governor, and our sitting Republican Senator. They don't apply to Steve. Troxler is doing what government is supposed to be doing—keeping her between the ditches. His stamp does not appear on public restrooms.

So on Facebook I said that it would be a good thing if Mrs. Clinton won a strong popular victory, because such a victory would aid her ability to have a successful tour of duty and help her get some good legislation passed, not to mention probably nudge Congress to go ahead and vote on items such as the currently vacant Supreme Court seat. I gave as examples of good legislation some repairs to the current Affordable Care Act, and some sort of improvements to our immigration law. Personally I think if we get a 9th Justice and those two legislative efforts in Clinton's first two years we'll have come some significant way towards better government.

I was surprised to find resistance and aplenty from my Facebook friends. There were various remarks, but the general drift was that a Clinton popular victory of note would achieve nothing but an enhancement of the power of the corporate elite that supports her, and that enhancing that would actually be a detriment to the goal of a more democratic union. It was also noted that Republicans don't give a damn about popular majorities and would continue to obstruct if she managed even such a landslide as a 60% victory.

I'm just presenting the facts here, at a moment where the future lies before us but is uncharted. Given that Republicans still have to run for election, it would seem to me that at least some of them might notice when large popular margins are arrayed against their party. Possibly some of them would alter their tack, at least to some extent. An example would be John McCain's public wavering just last week over the prospect of voting on a Supreme Court nominee. One day he said never, the next day he took that back.

As to the corporate elites running everything, and gaining power by a Clinton victory. Well, surely they will. Here in my household some view the whole deal as having been rigged, but not in the way Mr. Trump asserts. A theory exists that the Clinton “machine,” in league with said corporate interests (see, e.g., all those lucrative speeches to Wall Street, and the mysterious decimation of progressive thought on the MSNBC (GE) television network), did indeed rig the whole spectacle in favor not only of Mrs. Clinton, but more importantly, of Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump was viewed by Clinton forces as the worst candidate in the Republican field who might also be a plausible primary winner. So, indeed, as Trump whines daily, the “system” was rigged. But what he doesn't say is, it was rigged for him! Ain't that a nasty bitch. Trump is a chump.

There was no real conclusion to the Facebook conversation. It got late in the day and I logged off. Then we went over to see the old vet, and assured him that he'd been living there in his same room for a few months now, and all would be well in the morning. We got him a new bag of M&Ms, a treat he's come to enjoy. We treated ourselves to barbeque sandwiches, a night on the town. Libby warmed her dad's socks in the drier down the hall so his feet would get warm for the night. When we got home, DCI Banks was just coming on, as was Nashville. We retired to our separate viewing stations. It was cold enough to start the first fire of the season, but too late to actually do it. The kivvers were sufficient when combined with snuggles, and the night passed to a sparkling new day, with Talladega in the offing.

My view is, we reside, as we always have, in the belly of the beast.


  1. Bill, as usual, your writing is a pleasant excursion through plenty of interesting points, over familiar yet mysterious terrain, always anchored to something as earthy as figuring out whether to put in a warming fire or just go to sleep and hope for the best. Cheers, Lew