I’m again trapped in your past, unable to say anything useful about your present. The big news for you is the 2020 election, which has mostly happened. The big news for me at 6 a.m. Friday, Oct. 30, is the sun isn’t up yet. Daylight Savings Time is still in effect. Halloween is tomorrow and I’m going to wear my grumpy old man costume this year, as I do every year, because, bah, humbug.
It’s hard to focus on any news except the election. Every day Trump is president, his administration does something that threatens the environment, for example. I’m unable to look away from the election because the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is looking at budget cuts. Today, the administration was dropping protections for gray wolves everywhere. Is this train ever going to be derailed?
Sometimes I wish I was back in 1984. 1984 was both a good and a bad year for me. It was a bad year because I was homeless for most of it, and I had the worst bout of PTSD symptoms ever, including a complete inability to look at newspapers. One day I was looking at a newspaper on sale and had a total meltdown because of a feel-good human-interest story on page 1. Because I felt like I’d never feel good again. Stupid stupid feel-good stories. It was probably the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. So, no more looking at newspapers for a long time after that.
Thus, what made it a good year is that for me it barely happened. Not looking even at the date at the top of each day’s paper meant that I lost track of the day of the week, then the month, and finally, I stopped being sure what year it was. In fact ’84, ’85 and ’86 all sort of merged together into one ’80-middle.
I was spared news of the reelection of Ronald Reagan. Someone told me about it eventually, but I don’t know when it was that they told me. Was it 1985 or 1986? “Oh, Walter Mondale lost? How’s he taking it?” I said, displaying something resembling empathy. I was really just trying desperately not to be obviously triggered in public. I hated that.
I’ve paid close attention to every other presidential election that’s happened, since my first in 1952. I liked Ike [Dwight Eisenhower], but I would have voted for Adlai Stevenson II, had three-year-olds been allowed to vote.
Three-year-olds should vote. Would they vote worse than 46.1 percent of the electorate did in 2016?
My first chance to cast a ballot was in 1968, at which time I began a long string of failures to vote for the winning candidate. Everybody I voted for lost. It was my own fault a lot of the time. I knew voting for third party candidates was not a good way to get on the winning side. I didn’t break my streak until 2008. It only took 40 years.
I see hope in that. Let’s say my candidate loses this time. Well, if I can just hang on until 2056, maybe another Obama will show up and I can be on the winning side again. All it takes is patience, right?
For those of you whose guy has won, or has appeared to have won, by the time you read this, please celebrate your victory without being jerks to all the people on the losing side. I mean, if your side won, shouldn’t that be joy enough? You don’t have to grind it in to squeeze out more drops of joy. Have some class.
Questions to propel us forward into the cheery future by milking lessons from the dreary past:
In 1960, I was in 11th grade. Our teacher insisted we all pick a candidate and campaign in class for him. I couldn’t see any real difference between Kennedy and Nixon. Oh sure, Kennedy was better looking. Nixon had that 5 o’clock shadow, those jowls and a voice that made dogs bark, but other than that. … So, I made a sign that said “Vote for Kennedy” on one side and “Vote for Nixon” on the other and marched it around the classroom. How many points should I have lost for disregarding instructions? Should I forgive myself now for not picking the right guy?
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read more in the Nov. 4-10, 2020 issue.