We Will Surely Awake


“You wouldn’t let your grandparents pick your playlist. Why would you let them pick your representative who’s going to determine your future?” 

Barack Obama

 I don’t know if my individual vote changes anything, other than it makes me feel better.  I feel better by the act of picking candidates who are more aligned with my beliefs and hopeful they will prevail.  I believe today’s election is the first step on a path to a better future and by doing my civic duty and voting I have helped be part of that first step.  The good thing about democracy and voting is at least you can hope things will change.   

I know that on any typical day two-thirds of the approximately 200 people that visit Fourteen Lines are not Americans.  The majority of the people that might read this are not personally invested in this election, regardless of its outcome. I wonder how American politics must appear to the rest of the world?  Do you find this as bewildering as we do, the rhetoric so out of balance from our day to day lives?

I expect we will not know the outcome of this election for a while. I don’t anticipate that I will wake up tomorrow and the rhetoric will be less volatile, less divisive.  Instead I anticipate  that the specter of disunity might in the short term heighten, not lessen. But I remain hopeful that someday we will awaken to a calmer day with new leadership that views power as an obligation to not obscure the truth in search of political expediency.  A President that talks honestly about difficult nuanced subjects so that we can deal with seemingly intractable problems through compromise.  A day when Senators and Congressman on both sides of the isle believe in coalition building, on seeking agreement on common ground and see that process as not a failure in political strategy but as a moral obligation of principled leadership. Let’s pray today is the start of something new, something better.  But given that Whitman was writing about waking up 170 years ago from the political malaise of his era, its fair to ask whether I should really expect change from politicians or like my vote, only hold myself accountable for change? 

To the States

By Walt Whitman

To Identify the 16th, 17th, or 18th Presidentiad.

Why reclining, interrogating? why myself and all drowsing?
What deepening twilight—scum floating atop of the waters,
Who are they as bats and night-dogs askant in the capitol?
What a filthy Presidentiad! (O South, your torrid suns! O North, your artic freezings!)
Are those really Congressman?  are those the great Judges?  Is that the President?
Then I will sleep awhile yet, for I see that these States sleep, for reasons
(With gathering murk, with muttering thunder and lambent shoots we all duly awake,
South, North, East, West, inland and seaboard, we will surely awake.)

Poem in the American Manner

by Dorothy Parker

I dunno yer highfalutin’ words, but here’s th’ way it seems
When I’m peekin’ out th’ winder o’ my little House o Dreams;
I’ve been lookin’ ‘roun’ this big ol’ world, as bizzy as a hive,
An’ I want t’ tell ye, neighbor mine, it’s good t’ be alive.
I’ve ben settin’ here, a-thinkin’ hard, an’ say, it seems t’ me
That this big ol’ world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin’ little babies, an’ its battles, an’ its strikes,
An’ its profiteers, an’ hold-up men—th’ dawggone little tykes!
An’ its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An’ I think, “Why, shucks, we’re jest a lot o’ grown-up little boys!”
An’ I settle back, an’ light my pipe, an’ reach fer Mother’s hand,
An’ I wouldn’t swap my peace o’ mind fer nothin’ in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an’ you
Is a purty good ol’ place t’ live—say, neighbor, ain’t it true