To be honest, if either of the major candidates wins, I’ll feel disappointed. I watch the debates and want to yell “you’re a bad man!” at both of these wealthy rulers, over and over.
Because there’s an America in my mind that I have come to love. It’s fictitious, but it has elements of truth in it.
I like thinking about it, even if it’s sometimes painful to consider what could be.
It’s an America of social mobility. Growing up, I knew this guy (we’ll call him Wayne). He and his family had a lumber mill. He was able to buy a house and raise four daughters with the income from his family mill. His daughters worked at the mill and so did his folks. His wife worked the garden and canned their food.
Today that mill is completely gone. The empty lot is next to a congested section of the freeway and a homeless shelter that’s been evacuated because of Covid-19.
My vision of the perfect America is filmed with color-saturated Super 8 footage. The footage shows minor league baseball games and neighbors hanging out with no masks, undivided by political partisanship.
I see great cities filled with fine art deco buildings open to the public… Carnegie libraries filled with the greatest of poets, where anyone can walk in and, free of charge, access the greatest minds of any time.
I see American manufacturing. Not just steel and cars, but also decent woolen shirts that hold up over the decades and pants that don’t fade or rip or mysteriously lose buttons. There’s craftsmanship and economy and folks don’t race after unnecessary fads in clothing or merchandise. Like, you buy ear buds for one phone and you never have to buy another pair because manufacturers don’t switch up the design to get you to buy more shit in some nefarious trap of planned obsolescence. In my ideal America, people don’t play like that. All abide by a hardy Tolstoyan morality.
It’s an America where hatred is an anthema and you can calmly disagree with people who don’t think like you. It’s a place where the free press is alive and filled with quality local journalism instead of never-ending “content” designed to generate clicks and revenue.
It’s a place where jazz is born of spontaneity and freedom and the blues ooze out of the pores of working folks and the dinner table is set with practical beers and a slice of chicken and corn on the cob.
This America… did I dream it? Was it ever? No. It’s the best of the ideas of America, compiled into one idyllic belief that we’re better than this. I recognize that it’s also on some level some half-baked Springsteen shit I’ve ingested from pop culture and stump speeches.
But still. We are better than this.
We’re better than this nightmare of an imposter president and his network of oligarchs (the mind rejects it as abhorrent in our supposed democracy). We’re better than two old rich white men on stage shouting each other down. We’re better than this.
So I voted. Not for my utopian vision (which probably can only be accomplished on a local scale).
I straight-up voted against evil.
So I voted. Now what?
Now I get up and write words on my typewriter and computer, telling stories about the best of who we are. I work in the local press and do my best.
I clean my house religiously to the cleanest that it can be and give my children hot baths and scour their hair until they shine. I coach them to brush their teeth and memorize vowels. I give them nutritious meals and hugs.
I play the piano for them and parcel out my money for their winter clothes.
They are the denizens of the future. But we are also the present. And we stand as representatives of sanity, decency, and love.
I voted with my hands. Now our hearts must do the true work.
Do you believe in the power of storytelling? So do I.
My freelance writing service, Porter Wordsmith, is your antidote to bland, canned jargon. I’m your guy to help you say the thing and say it right.