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Carrol Vertrees: Easy to catch the virus of civic apathy

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: October 10, 2012 6:14AM



OK, folks, the convention fun is over and it is time to jump off of cloud nine and face the famous Yogi Berra challenge: “When you don’t know where you are going, be careful, you may get there.”

Now we all must decide where we want to go.

Those national political shows are entertaining, opportunities for hundreds of delegates to tell their grandkids about it all. This is part of our democracy, I reckon.

It would be fun, and surprising, if we could hear even one “boo” in the convention proceedings. The spontaneity has been lost. Too bad.

Both of the fellows who want to be president tried to tell us who they are, and they did OK, but their wives did better. Their stories are very different, and so are the candidates, which is part of this political story.

Wondering who these fellows really are makes sense. Now that we think we know, what do we do about it? We need to examine who we are, politically speaking. Where do we want to go?

Some of us, naturally, will follow that party flag wherever it takes us, even if we don’t want to go there, wherever that is. Some of us may look past the cosmetic stuff.

I am an old curmudgeon (are there any young ones?) who saw years ago that women deserved a better place in the political stories, but it was hard to admit. Now, in the afterglow of two political confabs, it is clear that women have made it — even curmudgeons have to admit that this is a rich blessing.

And it reminds me of a fossil girl found by scientific diggers some years back. They arbitrarily named her Madeline, a really nice name. The discovery caused some experts to say the word “evolution.”

They said this about her: “She probably had the capacity to undertake complex reasoning.” See? We knew that, but did not want to admit it. Some of Madeline’s descendants are in high office, some will be and some eloquently explain who their husbands are, as in Romney and Obama.

I am not hooked on the evolution thing, but it is hard to ignore. But if it is the real thing, where are we headed? Are we almost there? I hope not. Let’s not stop now.

I suspect that Madeline’s complex reasoning would say that surely there is a better way to run politics than spending millions to help some guy win an office. Let’s go for it.

Deep in my bypassed farm boy heart, I am an optimist, but a story from “God’s Little Devotional Bible” makes me wonder about us, and remember how easy it is to catch the virus of civic apathy.

A biologist lined up some caterpillars on the rim of a flower pot so that the lead caterpillar was head-to-tail with the last one in the bunch. They walked around the rim of that pot for days and then died of exhaustion and starvation. Food was only inches away but the follow-the-leader instinct was stronger than the urge to eat and survive.

Do we dare make choices on our own instead of always following our party leaders? Where do we want to go? How well do we know ourselves?

I quote Yogi: “A lot of the things I said I didn’t say.” Some politicians may wish they had not said some of the things they said. There probably are more Madeline female descendants around than we know — we need their complex reasoning.

Yogi and Madeline. On to Washington, I say! A fun idea, anyway, right?



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