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I liked some of the election results, and didn’t like some of the election results, but that’s what I expect. Don’t you? It’s hardly worth gnashing teeth over. I figure elections are like New Year’s Eve, and the day after is like New Year’s Day – a good time to decide what resolutions to make, which to put on the shelf, and what course to try next.

Anyway, an acquaintance of ours told us that her father is so distraught that his candidate didn’t win that he hasn’t been able to get out of bed since the results were announced. I think he’s in his 80s, but I’m not sure. He’s old enough, anyway, to know better.

But, then, he’s something of a good old boy, and they’re not generally used to losing.

So, let me tell you about the election his champion lost. The post was county judge, which is a misleading name for what amounts, more or less, to county mayor. It’s a nonpartisan post, officially. Candidates don’t run by party. Their affiliation, if any, isn’t even listed on the ballot. We had two candidates, a Quiet Man and a Brash Man.

Quiet Man is painfully shy, but walked around meeting people on the sidewalk and handing out brochures explaining what he thought needed to be a priority in county business and outlining what he wanted to do. He didn’t like to take questions at debates, but preferred to take questions in writing and reply in writing. That way, he said, he had a chance to study the subject if he needed to, and his reply would be on record, where everybody could see the whole answer insteading of relying on what somebody else said they thought he said.

Brash Man ridiculed Quiet Man for not shooting from the hip, apparently on the grounds that hunches tell a lot about a man. Brash Man also refused to put anything in writing.

Quiet Man offered, if he won, to let the losing side have a place at the table with him.

Brash Man sneered. He made it plain that if anybody thought he’d give ground once elected they were crazy.

A friend of mine, early in the campaign, noticed one of his employees, a clerk at his retail establishment, having a horrible time dealing with a visitor. The visitor was livid about a sign out front of the store expressing support for Quiet Man. Livid. He announced, “I’m responsible for the welfare of this county, and I’m here to see the right people get elected.” No kidding. That’s what he proclaimed.

My friend was a bit taken aback (wouldn’t you be, if a madman walked into your store?), but tried to lighten things up by teasing his employee. “Hey, I thought you Jehovah’s Witnesses didn’t do politics?”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him,” the clerk said. “I keep telling him I don’t care who wins. He won’t listen.”

The Livid Visitor got more livid. He told my friend to fire her. He said that people who don’t vote don’t have a right to a job.

Let me repeat that. He tried to have her fired for not being political enough. That’s a new one on me. Very, very fringy, yes? Very, very bad, yes?

Now, I don’t understand people who think you can’t be godly if you vote. In fact, I think they’re kind of letting the side down. But this is America, land of ‘it’s no good going around telling people they’ve got to pretend to please God your way and ignore their own ideas on the matter.’ People have a right to opt out of pretty much whatever they think displeases the Almighty.

And they certainly have a right to a job if they can earn it.

Grrr.

The Livid Visitor never would identify himself or say whether he worked for Brash Man’s campaign or was freelancing. He drove off in a huff, cursing and endangering other drivers. Shortly afterward, people who identified themselves as being with the Brash Man’s campaign started calling. And calling. They really wanted a sign up, preferably one that played off the slogan on the Quiet Man sign. One-upsmanship plays well in their circle, I guess.

They managed to talk another clerk (who didn’t know about the previous fuss and wasn’t clear on store policy about signs, but who wanted to be polite) into taking money to put up a sign for their guy, but my friend the manager sent their money back with a polite refusal and that seemed to end that. Not everybody on Brash Man’s side is a thug, apparently. Thank goodness.

Quiet Man concentrated on efforts to make the county more livable, and able to attract more business.

Brash Man has a history of trying to outlaw the United Nations and do away with speed limits on rural highways, that sort of thing: great quixotic quests with much fanfare but little chance of doing more than getting folks in the paper.

Quiet Man won, by a healthy but not overwhelming margin. The first thing he did (according to the grapevine) was offer Brash Man a chance to sit at the council table, next to him. I thought that went too far, myself. If I go in front of the county court with an idea or request, I don’t want to have to face Brash Man’s sneer and ridicule. (Did I mention he likes to ridicule people? Or that he’s much bigger than me? And has rough and rowdy friends?)

Brash Man, though, decided to sneer at the offer instead of people who might come to any future meetings. He has announced that he thinks he’ll move. The county’s gotten too conservative to suit him, he says. A sunnier clime would suit him, he says. He adds he might keep a summer home around here so he can go hunting, but basically he’s tired of trying to live somewhere where he’s surrounded by idiots.

We thought about getting up a collection to help cover moving expenses. But most of the people we know are frugal either by necessity or by choice, and it would be asking a bit much to ask them to spend their hard-earned money subsidizing a Brash Man. Besides, we’re afraid that if people were too open about being happy to see him go he might get contrary and stay. Just to show us who’s boss, you know.

Heh. I love it that the bullies sometimes have to step aside. It would suit my idealism streak a bit better if we didn’t need secret ballots to get the job done, but, well, thank goodness for secret ballots.

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I don’t want to make too much of this, but I got my college alumni magazine today – and it seemed not only to be written by sane people (who know grammar, no less) but it seemed to feature mostly hearty, happy folks with their heads on straight. The alumns who were featured had nice jobs, or at least honest ones. No full-time radical activists in the bunch.

Wow. When did this happen?

I had become accustomed to being offended with each mailing. Exasperated. The magazine had been full of hack writing, typos, shrill voices, and tributes to people who had apparently dedicated their life to making other people miserable because of some infraction of the political correctness code. This issue had a few sad cases, like an English professor who’d published a poem in an obscure publication with a suspiciously unfriendly title (the publication had the unfriendly title, the poem’s title was left out, perhaps for good reason), but mostly it was a heartwarming, lively, intelligent read – well-written, well-edited, well-presented visually.

I am in shock. It is happy shock, tinged with wariness (has the campus culture finally changed for the better, or is it merely being sugar-coated, I have to ask myself).

How about you? If you went to college, is your alma mater showing any signs of moving out of the Ist Ages? (You know what I mean. Feminist, Marxist, Socialist, etc.)

I don’t dare hope that sensible people are getting a firm foothold in American academia, after all. But I can’t help dreaming of the day.

Update: I originally had it as Ist-ages, but I’ve decided Ist Ages is better form, so have edited the post. 

I was visiting with a friend who used to be a foster parent, and we were discussing the problem another friend of ours was having because some group of psychiatrist wannabes at school had labeled his daughter as bipolar. The father, understandably, didn’t want his daughter being marked that way, and shoved into the square peg holes reserved for children diagnosed as bipolar.

My friend, the veteran foster dad, grinned and said he never sent the psychologist reports to school along with his kids. He used to get in trouble for it, he said, but by then the teacher had usually managed to get to know the kid as a kid, and not as a case study.

His favorite experience, from the sounds of things, was after he’d managed to send one foster daughter to a grade school for more than a year before his higher-ups got wind of the fact that the school didn’t have her profile, and so sent one directly to the teacher.

The teacher called the foster dad, confused and sure there’d been a mistake. ‘The agency sent me a report with your foster daughter’s name on it, but it’s not her,’ the teacher said.

Heh. Mission accomplished. Yahhhh!

The retired foster father and I discussed this for a while. The psychologists and social workers and all that ilk meant well, but they only knew the kids from visits – visits where the kid was encouraged to let loose, no less. They had no idea, none, how normal these kids were away from their helpful encouragement.

‘Nuf said.

You know how there used to be a custom of ladies going one way and gentlemen the other after dinner? Maybe we should revive the custom. Or maybe not – since having us split up resulted in an awkward situation around here recently. According to my husband, when he was alone with an old man the elderly gentleman told him that what he and his wife feared most was not dying at the same time. When I was alone with the old man’s wife, it was clear to me that although she loves this old guy with a deep devotion and is willing to stick with him through thick and thin, she’d probably be grateful for some time to herself, not having to care for somebody for a change. She is, perhaps, a bit tired of putting up with his increasing crankiness, and stubbornness, and fretting.

We think we’ll stay out of the middle of all this. Wouldn’t you?

But, you know, it got me thinking. I’ve known quite a few older couples where the guy is more afraid of being alone than of dying, but relatively few where the woman thinks that way. On the other side of that, the one time I went to Hawaii I was surrounded by widows who were thankful they had a chance to get out and do things that their stuck-in-a-rut husband hadn’t wanted to do. Like visit Hawaii, obviously.

I guess the trick is to not let yourself get trapped in a rut? At least for starters?

Oh, and remembering to mind your manners around your family and not just with outsiders. I suspect it’s the old men who let themselves become harder to live with who fret the most about being left alone. That’s just a guess, though.