The View from Faraway Farm: Falling into an old trap

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Years ago I lived in a town where the union school district shared their high school with a very wealthy town. The folks from the wealthy town were like many wealthy folks; arrogant, callous, and willing to do anything to gain an unfair advantage. I would attend the annual district meetings because I wanted to get involved with the process. I sat there listening, hoping to learn. The more I observed, the angrier I would get. The deck was stacked against the town where I lived for many reasons. I felt powerless, but more than that, I would feel my blood pressure spiking and realized that attending those meetings was not for me. I stopped going and was happier for it. This is what happens when you start to care about situations that are well beyond your control. I felt that getting involved would make me no better than some of the egotistical jerks who were calling the shots.

Anything that resembles politics is not for me. I care too much, I get passionate about issues, and I really dislike the process. However, occasionally a political candidate will come along that appeals to my sense of fairness. Jimmy Carter was one of those people. When he ran for president I really climbed on board. My co-workers at Dartmouth would rib me about it, and someone gave me a ceramic likeness of Carter shaped like a peanut. That was an indicator that I had fallen into the old political trap of getting too zealous. I never heard the end of it once Carter was in office. I decided that I'd just keep my political leanings to myself. For many years, I held true to that strategy.

When Bernie Sanders announced that he was running for president I found myself tumbling off the wagon. I had fallen into it again. I donated money to his campaign, I put a Bernie sticker on one of my cars. I've been sharing all kinds of pro-Bernie posts on social media. After the New Hampshire primary win, things have gotten a bit heated. In the most recent Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton lit into Bernie about the money she has taken for speeches to Wall Street firms. It was reminiscent of politics at their worst. She did one hell of an acting job, feigning righteous outrage over something that is well documented. It was audacious, it was wrong, it was unethical, and it garnered a big round of applause from the audience. It was the wake-up call that said I was getting too invested in a national political race, one that will only raise my blood pressure with no good result. Time to retreat back into myself, stop the social media participation, and get this thing off the center stage of my thought processes. That's how much this baloney can affect me, and it's not worth it.

The fact of the matter is pretty obvious. I've already made up my mind about my pick for president, but sharing my support and enthusiasm is tantamount to hitching a ride on the road to perdition. Rather than waste my time and emotional energy on a situation that I have absolutely no influence over, I've decided to reign myself in a bit. There is nothing I can do to get the guy elected, other than sending a meager contribution in every few weeks, and casting my vote next November. That's all the majority of us can do. Have you got the time to be a rah-rah person for your favorite candidate? I don't, especially if my involvement gets me all fired up. I need to lighten up. It's just an election for the most powerful job on earth. If you listen to the pundits, my chosen candidate doesn't have a prayer of getting elected anyway. The sleaze merchants always win out in the end, right? Even if the guy gets elected, the stars are aligned against his ever being able to get anything done, right? Well, please allow me to leave you with a quote from my High School yearbook, the one that my former wife and classmate assigned to my profile. "Just because you have silenced a man does not mean that you have converted him." Yes indeed, I've fallen into that old political trap again and I can't get up.

Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for nearly 30 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT Monday through Saturday mornings at 8:35 a.m.


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