Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Thoughts while bathing (the mayoral election in Los Angeles)
This morning as the water beat down on me in the shower, my mind ran to politics and conversations that I've had in the car with my sons. Just last night, as I maneuvered through godawful traffic with Oliver and Sophie, we heard the atrocious story of the black mayoral candidate in Mississippi who was brutally murdered in what sounded like the 2013 version of lynching, and when Oliver asked me what happened, I told him that perhaps someone extremely racist and/or homophobic didn't want him to run for mayor. Oliver asked me what homophobic meant, and I told him that it meant one is afraid of gay people. AFRAID? Oliver said, incredulous. Why? And I told him that some people thought gay people were bad or unnatural, even evil, and Oliver just didn't get it, so I told him that sometimes people are profoundly ignorant and might not even know a gay person and so were afraid of anything different, and he seemed to get that so we dropped it. As I shampooed my hair this morning, I thought about the mayoral race today in Los Angeles and whether or not I'll vote for a Republican for the second time (I believe I voted for Guiliani in New York City a thousand years ago) in my life. In doing only cursory research I find the mayoral candidate Kevin James sort of, kind of, interesting but only so because I'm tired of politics as usual. The fact that he's a libertarian does not excite me (I know it's simplistic, but I can't help but equate libertarians with Ayn Rand and that dreadful novel I read in my late teens, The Fountainhead, which even then, when I knew nothing about anything, made me feel as if my blood was draining from my body), but because he's fiscally conservative and socially liberal, my interest is piqued. Still, I probably don't know nothing from anything, and James makes all kinds of claims as politicians do, and they sound pretty good, but then there's the gathering for him that was held on Sunday that I didn't go to because I knew it would be a bunch of rich people from the neighborhood adjacent to mine whose politics I find smug when I'm feeling charitable, and I won't tell you what I think when I'm feeling like myself. I'm not sure I can vote for someone that they all support. Honestly. As the water ran down my body, I thought how there's a part of me that just doesn't care who the next mayor is, but by the time the water rounded my hip and streamed down my leg, I had jettisoned the cynicism and decided that if I'm going to live in a democracy I should vote for the person who best represents me, and that person probably isn't going to be a former attorney and right-wing radio shock jock -- is that what they're called? I don't know about this libertarian thing -- it sounds all sensible and logical but there's something about it that leaves me cold, and that thing is money. Or maybe it's government as Other, devoid of community. I think. Have ya'll read George Saunders' brilliant satire of libertarians from the New Yorker last fall? Here's the link. When I stepped out of the shower, I remembered my favorite line from the essay, words that evoke -- exactly -- the opposite of what voting in the Los Angeles mayoral election feels like. He wrote it as satire, but I'm feeling it for real, today.
Some days we would stride about, feeling violently alive.