I Vote for Them

I voted for these two. And for their baby brother. I voted for the kids my sons haven’t had yet. I voted for the children my nieces and nephews haven’t yet conceived.

I voted for the kids whose parents were desperate enough to bring them across the border in search of safety.

I voted for the children of my children’s children. And for the children of people I haven’t met. And the children who will one day be the friends of my children’s children.

I voted for the future.

I cast my vote this year for the earth. I voted in the hope that we can still find a way to stop California from burning. I voted because I believe that humans are creative enough to utilize the power of the sun and the wind to heat our homes and power our factories.

I voted. I voted in tears, and filled with fear. I voted with my heart full of love for my sweet grandchildren and the future that I hope awaits them.

I voted.

And now I wait.

I wait to see if my countrymen will accept the outcome of this pivotal election. I wait to find out if my country will turn itself around and move back toward a marginally democratic government. I wait, in fear, to find out if it will continue to move toward autocracy. I sit with my head in my hands, wondering if my fellow citizens have fallen for the lure of easy answers, the promise of magic bullets, the lies that promise no more sacrifice and no more worry.

I voted.

I voted for the people I love most on this little blue planet. I voted for them.

I’m afraid that I have voted in vain.

I’m afraid that more than voting will be required of me in the future.

Pre Election Fears

In one short week the Presidential Election of 2020 will officially happen.

That is to say, the official date set for the 2020 Election will come and it will go. If we are very lucky, by the time it passes we will finally know who’ll be the President of the United States for the next four years.

If we’re not so lucky, everything will still be up in the air and the entire nation will be suspended in a state of anxiety until a final vote count can be reached.

Of course, even we do have a winner by the night of November 3rd or 4th, we still don’t know whether the loser of the contest will accept the results. There might be legal battles.

There might be street battles.

We just don’t know.

As American citizens at this moment in our history, it is safe to say that every one of us old enough to have seen the news is existing in a state of tension that is reminiscent of the day before major surgery. We’re trying to keep ourselves distracted, but every few minutes we remember what looms ahead of us and our hearts give a collective lurch. We have national high blood pressure, regional insomnia and local heartburn.

We’re a wreck.

Some of us are spending all day on social media, aiming for those last minute memes or posts that might just change one mind. Others are listening to history podcasts or old TED Talks just to keep our minds off of things.

A lot of us are stocking up on food, water, medicine and flashlight batteries, too. And almost as many are stocking up on guns and ammunition.

We don’t know what is coming. We don’t know how angry people will be if and when certain things do or do not happen. We can’t see into our own near futures, as the pandemic rages, the election threatens to unravel and the economy teeters on the brink.

As I was cleaning my kitchen after dinner tonight, I started to think about next week and the weeks after it. My heart gave that lurch. I thought over the items in my emergency kit and the supplies that I’ve pulled together “just in case”.

And it occurred to me that a very strange thing had happened to me.

I’d begun to fear my neighbors.

I was afraid of the anger of other Americans if their “guy” lost the election. I was standing in my own suburban American kitchen, worrying about what I’d do if things in my town, my county, or my state turned violent. Would I physically fight other people over an election? Would I physically try to protect my food supplies?

The utter ridiculousness of it hit me hard.

I looked out my window, into the cold October woods. I could see the house next door. The house with the friendly young couple and their baby girl. Past their house lived another nice friendly family, and beyond them some folks we first met when our son was playing hockey.

On the other side, and across the street, all the way around most of the mile long loop of dirt road. I knew the names of the dogs at most houses, and regularly waved to people as we drove past each other.

I remembered the big ice storm of 2008, when people on the street helped each other cut up the trees that had come down across the road. I remembered one neighbor who emptied the water from his pool into trash barrels and brought them around to each house, so we’d have water to flush our toilets even with our electric pumps shut down.

I thought about times we’d picked up each other’s mail, fed each other’s pets, brought each other cookies.

The idea of fighting with them over something as distant as the government seemed absurd.

And it still does.

I have no idea of the political leanings of any of the people who live on my street. They know ours because of the cute flags I put up near our mailbox this past summer. Still, we’ve never talked about politics. I couldn’t begin to know who to fight anyway.

Standing in my kitchen tonight, with the rain dripping off the eaves outside, I came to an important realization. If all hell breaks loose next week, and the grid goes down or things rage out of control, I will help out my neighbors in any way I can.

After all, no matter who any of us have voted for, it won’t be either Joe Biden or Donald Trump who’ll offer us a hot meal when our generator fails. It won’t be one of them sharing a box of pasta or the last bar of soap.

It will be the neighbor whose dog we know or the one who shared her perennials. That’s who we’ll need to depend on if things go as badly as we fear.

As we hold our collective breath and whisper our respective prayers for the next week, we’d better remember that after all WE are the people, WE are the citizens. We need to make sure that we have each other’s backs if those with the power are fighting about who will get to wield it.

BIG mistake……Huge…..

I made a wicked big mistake today.


I was driving around, doing various and sundry errands, and I had the radio on.  I like to listen to XM radio, and have a special affinity for POTUS, the station that covers national politics in a very non-partisan and highly intelligent way.

Today, to my great sorrow, they were covering a convention of conservatives on the topic of public K-12 education, and a few of the candidates were there to answer questions.

Holy heart attack.  This how I felt by the time I got to the end of the third Republican candidate:


It was NOT a pretty sight (obviously).

I was literally shaking by the time I parked the car.  I wanted to reach right out and strangle someone.

Since they were on the radio, though, I couldn’t actually get to them.  Instead,  I had to force myself to breathe deep and repeat my mantra, “Teachers are fighting the good fight.”

But now that I am all calmed down, and the raging fire of the sun has set, and I’ve had a good dinner a glass or two of wine, I have decided to use my vast mastery of the English language to shed a bit of light on just what it was that I found so egregious about the crap that was spewed at that conference.

First of all, dear Republican Candidates, you really cannot value education and despise educators at the same time.  Truly. If you denigrate and disparage those who give their lives to educating the young then you cannot add a side note to tell us how much you appreciate teachers.

Second of all, when you say things like, “Teachers want our children to succeed, its the unions who don’t!”, you sound like a complete imbecile.  Who the hell do you think the union IS, if not the teachers?  Who do you think the union representatives are, if not teachers?

When you make claims about unions only representing the needs of the teachers, and not those of the children, you ignore the very real fact that without the unions behind them, teachers could not feel secure enough to stand up for the rights and needs of the students.  Without collective bargaining, do you really think that teachers would be able to advocate for increased services for kids? Do you honestly think that they could request smaller class sizes, or updated materials or more technology?  Of course not. In a world without collective bargaining, in your dream world of no unions, teachers would be forced to comply with every administrative mandate that came down the school hallway, whether from the school office, the district, the state or Washington DC.  Teachers would be completely without any recourse when told to do more with less, to reach ever greater numbers of children with ever greater needs, and to make do with outdated and limited resources.

Dear Republican Candidates, you do not support public education. You do not support children.  You know how I can tell? I can tell because you claim that you want “an excellent teacher in front of every class”, but you describe teachers as selfish and self serving. You claim that they refuse to be “accountable”.  You say that they refuse to adapt, refuse to be “innovative”, refuse to change the “status quo”. You would deny those “excellent” young scholars the protection of a contract, making them essentially employees at will.  You expect the very best of our young people to choose teaching?  What on earth do you think you offer that would make teaching the professional choice of smart young men and women?

I know that there will always be teachers. I know that there will always be young people who want to step into the classroom, to shape the lives of children.  I know this because I have been a teacher for many, many years.  I’ve seen the fads come and go, I’ve seen countless politicians pontificating about “fixing our schools”.  And I’ve seen an endless stream of idealistic, devoted, intelligent, caring young people coming up through the ranks of the education work force.

The thing is, Dear Republican EdReform Wannabees, these young people are coming into teaching in spite of you, not because of you.

As far as I can tell, you have nothing to offer our schools, our parents, our children. You would do your best to further demoralize our already embattled teachers. You would take away their safety net, take away their job security, take away their right to due process.  In fact, you seem to be doing your level best to make sure that there are no “excellent teachers” left to serve our schools.

I left teaching this year, so I am not here to defend my own lazy habits.  I’m not here to protest on my own behalf.   But I know a LOT of teachers, dear Candidates, a lot. Whether or not some of you brag about “fighting” them, whether or not one of you wants to “punch them in the face”, they are all out there right now, planning for a good school year. They are organizing, cleaning, setting up, writing lesson plans, taking classes, learning about your children, collaborating with colleagues, making their schedules.

They deserve a lot better than what you are offering, Dear Republican Candidates.

And so do our kids.