23 May


Louise Annarino

May 21, 2012

Memorial day is just ahead, a time to remember those who filled a place in our hearts and minds we had no way to access on our own. Now, they have gone to a world we do not know but hope and long for, depending on our faith to bring us home. Whether we are Christian,Muslim,Hindu or Jew,agnostic or atheist, we can each identify with E.T.’s solemn entreaty to the children who loved him as he pointed skyward, “E.T. go home?” When those we love leave us it becomes winter in our souls. We are discontented, anxious, even angry. We say things we do not mean, statements indicate more about what we fear than what is true about those who left us. It is a winter of discontent.

Many Americans are in their gardens.The bird feeder is full, the bird bath in use, the compost spread. They spend time weeding, identifying the reborn perennials, dividing and moving them, and planting new seed. They do not ask if their plants like the spot they have chosen for them, but the plants will tell them with drooping stem or browning leaf edge. After a winter of discontent, anxious for the sun’s return, often angry over slick roads and crazy drivers, we find peace in our gardens. Spring brings hope for increased growth and abundance, a richness of color and diversity after a long grey-spell.

We have been through a winter of discontent with our political leaders,as well. Anxious over the excessive use of the filibuster by Senate Republicans, the deliberate block of Democratic House bills and appointments in Republican-led House committees which keeps President Obama’s legislative agenda locked away in committees to prove to us his promised change is a farce, the ease with which both Democratic and Republican parties cozy up to lobbyists and media, and the dead on arrival gridlock make us angry.

No one is satisfied with where we are as a nation. We are in winter’s grip even as we face a new political season, a new spring seems impossible. There is a calculation in play, a deliberate disorder to the natural ebb and flow of our political seasons. A Republican Party strategy was being designed even while President Obama was being sworn in on Inauguration Day.1  The Washington,D.C. garden of governance was being put to bed for the winter, a winter meant to last for the next 4 years.But, we cannot truly be without hope. Surely, we nation of farmers who tamed a wilderness, the world’s breadbasket, we who sing of “amber waves of grain” understand that after the winter comes the spring.

Much of the work by a gardener is unseen, testing and amending the soil to prepare for seeding, researching and reviewing past and future gardening practices, noting weather fluctuations and expected weather events, anticipating new technologies, finding the money to buy the best tools, incorporating new practices into old routines, preparing the beds, choosing the seed. Much of governance is unseen. It is just as tedious as gardening. Each can result in great productivity and abundance. We know when a gardener is on the right track. We can see the garden greening as plants begin to grow. But, watching plants grow can be as boring as watching paint dry. We really only understand how much progress has been made at the summer season’s close, when the garden has passed its zenith. That day is in the future. Neither the Obama administration’s accomplishments, nor our gardens are yet in full swing. For example, The Affordable Care Act does not become fully implemented until 2014. Growing a health care financing system which combines private/public sector efforts across 50 states with diverse delivery of care constructs, increased services, updated technology, best-practices and most cost-effective reviews etc. takes time. A gardener understands growth does not happen overnight. A gardener does not lose hope when change comes slowly.

This presidential race is not about change; change is occurring. It is about the direction of change. We can decide to govern using the same practices which nearly destroyed our garden of state and the entire world’s economy; or, we can move forward with the vision Barack Obama has for the sustained growth of this nation and its ability to offer the promise of abundance for all of its citizens. The difference between the candidates could not be more pronounced. The choice is backward or forward.

Furthermore,as Benjamin Byron points out, “…there is something rather odd going on in this presidential race. The Republican candidates — currently interested in courting conservative voters interested in shrinking the size of government, reducing debt and deficit, and reducing the tax burdens on individuals and corporations — have all submitted proposals that would, in most cases, increase deficits and debt over the next 10 years. Surprisingly, it is President Barack Obama’s budget proposal that has received the best scoring on reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio over the next 10 years.” 2

America was once untamed wilderness, and Libertarians such as Ron Paul revel in the freedom of the wilderness. There is a place for wilderness in each of our lives, and in a part of our garden. But, wilderness is a frightful task-master, and most of us are not up to its challenges. Too many would be left to struggle and die alone in the wilderness suggested by Mr. Paul. Civilization arose when wilderness was tamed. This is the role of government: to tame the wilderness.

When I visited Hilton Head, S.C. the first time I was appalled by the manicured, faux-garden island. It’s beauty left no room for spontaneous growth and abundance, no allowance for divergence of color or form. Like Mitt Romney, it seemed stilted and stuffy, with a controlled appearance meant to calm and orchestrate one’s compliance with the norm. We each need such places of calm in our lives and in our gardens; but, we need freedom to explore and ignite ideas which upset the norm in order to grow abundantly.

The best gardeners are those who take time to test the soil, feel the wind, learn the lay of the land and research what grows best given current conditions. The best gardeners are those who experiment to see what actually works, moving and adapting plants and treatments to get the strongest, most productive plants for sustained success, even if it takes a lot more work and a little more time. They don’t mind getting dirty, hot and sweaty; looking bad to make good on the promise of a healthy future for the garden and for the country. They leave room for wilderness to ignite our dreamers. They create spots of calm certainty for our most staid thinkers. They are the hope for our country and for our civilization. They are those who garden the middle ground. President Obama is the one candidate who can create such a garden of governance.

1.Method to Republican ‘Madness‘,May 5,2012,, By Robert Parry (Originally published March 31, 2010)

2. Barack Obama Debt Plan Reduces Deficit While All Other Republican Candidates Increase Deficit, Polycymic, Next Generation News and Politics, Business, National Debt, by Benjamin Byron, 


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