Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Devastated Landscape

There's really only one word to describe what transpired both here in  Maine and across the US this month:


Here in my neck of the woods an unexpected storm blew in the Sunday before Election Day– a wild, wheeling mass of Mother Nature's fury that whirled out of nowhere and laid a solid punch in the gut of our wee harbor and the surrounding hills. Weirdly, local "safe" harbors themselves seemed to exacerbate the impact, serving as wind tunnels in effect channelling and intensifying the wind as it reached land.  The surprise foot of wet, heavy snow was supposed to be only three or four inches; coupled with sudden 45 mile an hour winds  the poor snow -laden trees, many still heavy with leaves,  didn't have a chance. The wind grabbed hundred year old oaks and maples by the throat and throttled them til they were no more, casting amputated limbs carelessly aside, through cars, roofs, powerlines and roadways. The small fries suffered as well; first time I've ever seen willows, the "willing to bend" contingent, ripped to shreds. Later on, driving around town (on the few roads not blocked by two foot diameter trees or CMP guys with chain saws trying get a handle on downed wires) was one of those run-off-the-road experiences, so aghast were we at the sheer power of the storm. I've seen hurricane damage, tornado damage, but I've never seen trees twisted like this, throttled to death by wind. It looked so bad, so painful, you actually felt heartbreak for the trees.  Apple trees twisted beyond repair, two foot diameter oaks  ripped in half; even the CMP guys said they'd never seen a storm like it. No power for four days, and No Wood Stove! A cardinal sin in winter Maine. We huddled by a teeny fireplace playing gin by (our one) kerosene lamplight and candles, praying for the power to come back on.

It sucked.

But not as badly as realizing that, due to no power, we'd miss watching the election returns on Tuesday night, an event that, fools though we may be, we look forward to every election season. It's kind of our Super Bowl, having followed the players for months we muster enough faith in our fellow citizens to hope this time it will be different. This time they'll get it.  Anticipating not too bad a pasting, we hied on down to get the NY Times first thing Wednesday morning to find... Again: Devastation. Nationwide. Devastation.

It's not like the Dems deserved to win. They didn't. But how can Americans be so foolish? How can they make such spiteful use of the one weapon they still retain against corporate rule: their vote. Yet, why would the "unaffiliated" or "undecided" (really? really?) vote Democratic when the party can't even explain itself to the working folks who are their true audience?  Knowing the Repugs since Reagan have mastered the art of doublespeak, the Dems carry on trying to argue with Repug nonsense instead of tellin it like it is, in plain language, boldly enough to actually address an uneducated public that has lacked any sense of genuine political perspective for decades.

The most shocking news chez nous was that half of Maine voters voted for that illiterate fool Le Plague to renew his tenancy at Blaine House.  They chose an ignorant bigmouth over a sensible, experienced, plainspoken, intelligent and honest man like Mike Michaud. We suspect the vote margin Le Plague managed to eek out had much to do with Mike coming out in the months prior to Election Day. And that's not only a sad but a scary reflection on Mainers.

TV pundits would have us all believe that voters are fed up with "partisanship",  that Americans want Dems and Repugs to start working together in DC, that the message of the voters to both parties is "knock it off".  Really?  But what if it's not? What if the public is simply being bratty, both those who voted, and most particularly those who did NOT vote in this lowest-turnout-in-decades election. A local Maine newspaper publisher, Alice McFadden sees it this way:

"What is clear is that it's a mandate for more polarization, not less. Governor LePage's style is a
poster-perfect representation of "my way or the highway" and his re-election is a clear declaration
that nearly 50 percent of Maine voters share that sentiment. So while in recent years there's been lots
of talk in Maine and nationwide that what voters really want is for politicians to work together, find
common ground, rise above ideological partisanship, etc., in fact this election in Maine and in most of
 the rest of the country delivers precisely the opposite message."  (The Free Press, Nov 13, p 30)

Alice has hit the nail on the head. And don't get me started on that egomaniac spoiler Eliot Cutler, a man who offered little that was different than Le Plague's agenda of cutting/ privatizing services, including schools, and letting the rich keep their booty at the expense of poorer municipalities. This kind of talk, when much of the country is simply trying to survive, is just a more extreme (need I say un-Christian?) version of the me-me-me-me eighties, and thank you, Mr. Reagan for setting that limbo- low standard.

Morning in America. Sure.

Just look around: Devastation.

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