Elm & Maple -- raking this fall

Like those interminable drips of the faucet, each tree keeps dropping another basket of leaves hourly keeping the rakes flying in the neighborhood. But the busiest rakings going on are occurring the last days before the presidential election. Who knew that raking the national 'yard' could be so uncomfortably felt on so many levels?

No candidate can hardly endure the marathon of adrenalin rush. And there's got to be at least one batch of salmonella left out there at some campaign stop awaiting one mouth's mugging for a camera shot. But the bellyaches of campaign roads and 'toads' [or fried frog legs, hey, I was working on a literary thing here], are nothing compared to the Mother of Indigestion going on in families all over the country. You know, that indelicate subject that Peter Jennings, Diane Sawyer, and Larry King won't be covering -- political dissent within families. Oy. . .

I don't believe that our family can be all that unique. We just don't have a support group to turn to when we need it most. And presidential elections -- while only every four years -- last at least a year long, in truth. That's a lot of time to figure out how to conduct family get-togethers peacefully, respectfully, and without letting the air out of each other's tires.

I hardly think of myself as a die-hard political partisan. I've been a member of each party as the times and spokespersons 'spoke' to me. I've never believed in the logic of a 'straight ticket' for the 'sake of the party.' I'm just way too independent. I study as many issues about each individual and subjects as I can and form my own opinion. I am not swayed by talking heads nor are negative campaign ads and vitriolic speeches of any party effective on me. I realize, though, that everybody does it.

In the last month of every presidential campaign the lowest common denominator in the human condition will reveal itself to the public forefront, plain and simple -- I just expect it.

Ok, let's get back to what we do in our real lives in the meantime.
We each have choices and we have other elements of our lives besides these elections.
Life goes on.

Except. . . that you find yourself biting your tongue and leaving a room to slap yourself silly in the bathroom when you hear a family member who vociferously supports one candidate, let's call him Elm, telling a young child a political joke that disparages the other candidate, let's call him Maple.

You know that you have choices. You can -- do nothing; laugh as though it is funny (which is a lie if you don't feel it); challenge it; tell an Elm joke promptly to balance the scale; tell the adult family member in private that children deserve the chance to learn and grow without prejudicial influence politically from so-called 'jokes' (which she/he may not agree with for that matter), transcend into a Zen moment and/or go to the bathroom (leave the room first, though).

See, it's really not about humor. It's about bullying and there's no comfortable way to respond to a political pit-'bully.' The pundits behind the tv screen are suddenly the people who are eating your mother's meatloaf recipe while posturing, gesticulating and waxing imperiously proud and full of themselves. How did this happen? When did we start to mirror 'them?' Those late night politicos or wannabes who create polls or respond to so-called polls in order to make 'news' that's supposed to generate a new pulsecheck out of us. Argh!

Loving our family members as we do, in spite of themselves (some might say) and their political opinions, we don't need to 'win' an intrafamily 'election contest.' We're already comfortable in our own minds and in our own political shoes. "Can't we all just get along?" to quote someone from a Civil Rights movement I think years ago.

It's just that hearing babies-in-the-cradle taught to say "Elm" or "Maple" as their much anticipated first word seems wacky-wrong to me.

Oy. . . pass the Pepto Bismol!

Let us all rake our own yards well -- to mix a few metaphors (and possibly to quote that movie character Chauncey Gardener).