Be a patriot — vote wisely |

Be a patriot — vote wisely

Susan Stornetta

We have an election coming up soon. Usually I avoid the minefield of politics, but for this one, I’m making an exception.

Patriotism in the U.S. has really changed during my seven decades. Through two World Wars, the country rallied to defeat a common enemy. Then, politicians stirred up the Cold War/Communist threat to terrorize us into believing we needed always to be prepared for war. Politicians distributed military contracts, and lobbyists distributed favors like industry and jobs for their states. Eisenhower warned us, but we allowed the military/industrial complex, and a standing army, to become “essential.”

The system of fear continues today. We worry about terrorists, criminals, extremists, politicians themselves; or life-changing events such as illness, rejection, loss: lover, job, home, fortune, reputation, children or parents. Emotional fears wring our gut. Always rushing, or late? It’s as if our forebears’ constant search for danger has become a perpetual state of fear. And, when we’re frightened we can more easily be manipulated.

A grandson once told me, “Grandma, everyone lies.” He was right. We do it quite casually, to save someone’s feelings, or our own, but mostly because of fear: to get out of trouble, gain something, impress someone or convince them of something. If our motives are benign, it’s probably harmless enough. Mostly we just ignore that uncomfortable fact. The body, however feels otherwise.

The lie detector test proves the body responds with shock and distress to our lie. The oldest section of our two-part brain is the limbic, connecting with the spinal cord and controlling automatic bodily functions. Our spontaneous body language can betray us; apparently the primitive mind has a stronger moral compass than the larger, speaking, upper brain.

If a child recognizes a lie when he sees one, how can people convince themselves others believe them? And how do others get sucked in? It’s true if you tell a lie often enough people will come to believe it. Sadly, our president lies non-stop in the privacy of cyber space where body language is absent.

So everyone lies, especially politicians, who issue theirs with angry rhetoric, hoping to distract us from their lies. Vested interests of the wealthy align nicely with divisiveness, since competition is crucial to capitalism and accumulating wealth.

Behavior of politicians has changed for the worse. Their power as members of Congress (or a rich president) fosters a sense of entitlement. As a young adult, I saw Congressmen as cooperative, opponents who worked together civilly. As television and media coverage grew, politics became ugly, lies multiplied; insults and money ruled. The 2016 campaign was a dogfight with Republicans throwing each other under the bus, and Democrats little better, with caucuses heavily weighed in Hillary’s favor. Facing a corporate, well-connected Democratic woman, angry men elected one of their own.

I’ve disliked several presidents; Reagan’s insulting “trickle-down” economics, Nixon’s burglary, Clinton’s sleazy sex scandal, Bush Jr.’s phony Iraq war. When Obama was elected, I marveled, hopeful our country had finally gotten past the color prejudice in electing an African-American. And, the man was modest, tactful, truthful, considerate — a statesman who befriended our allies. Silly me. Undeterred, the haters and fear-mongers struggled for eight years to discredit him and destroy his every accomplishment.

The current president? He’s a lying, scary, unstable spendthrift trying to destroy every definition of democracy and fair play, civilized behavior, and advance in human rights and protection we’ve obtained.

What’s my point? Vote. Vote for thinking, balanced people. Vote for women and minorities. Step up and show real patriotism — dump the out-of-touch vengeful, angry, greedy and rapacious old white male politicians. Choose people who are civil, honest, diverse, intelligent, and fair-minded. Don’t fall for the lies of big spenders and venial politicians who want to keep us powerless forever. Please vote, and vote wisely.

Susan Stornetta is a retired archaeologist and a longtime Comstock resident.