TOILING IN THE POLITICAL GARDEN,By Louise Annarino,August 15,2012

15 Aug

TOILING IN THE POLITICAL GARDEN, By Louise Annarino, August 15, 2012

The grass browns as leaves yellow in the garden plot, and cicadas sing hourly songs of success. Fall intrudes late at night leaving a wet calling card on mornings scrolled open by the sun gaining distance from our lives. The stories politicians tell sound new only to the newly awakened.Those of us who have stayed awake most of the night heard them  when they were fresh and contained new information, like the seedlings in our Spring gardens. Slumbering summer politics bursts forth with abundance. Political ads, bus caravans, and nightly speeches fly like insects over every voter, seeking the last drop of sweetness to fuel their flight to victory at the polls.

Campaign teams ready volunteers to harvest votes. The worker bees buzz door-to-door about their neighborhoods. As Summer transitions to Autumn a presidency transitions. It is neither good nor bad. It simply is. And yet, all discussions of such transitions, seasonal or political are value-laden bushels. How do we know which candidate to believe? How do we tell a weed from a cultured plant? A lie from the truth? What is unreal from what is real? How do we know what the heck is really going on?

“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.” says Mike Royko. When President Obama or Vice-President Joe Biden remind us of the   struggles we’ve been through and are still facing and the efforts of the Republicans in Congress, including Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) to protect mortgage companies, banks, investment houses and businesses from desperately needed regulation to avoid another recession/depression they are describing to us what is a weed. This is not fear-mongering, but truth-telling. Mitt Romney, “always smiling, always cheerful, always optimistic” doesn’t know much about gardening nor governance. He has not needed to learn such skills.

As Glen Cook says in Water Sleeps “Rich men have dreams. Poor men die to make them come true.” And the middle class does both. President Obama has moved upward from one class to another to  another. Mr. Romney started at the top, and the view looks fine from up there. He smiles all the way to the bank; the Swiss and Cayman Island banks. He disdains the plebian request for his tax returns, details of his policies, how he would implement the Ryan budget. He does not feel it necessary to answer such questions, assuring us he will show us once he is president. I get it. As a captain of (not industry) corporate raiding he has never had to answer an interview question;he is the one conducting the interview. He has never had to answer to employees nor unions; the decisions have been totally in his hands. This is how he would govern. As if he were a majestic force of nature, not the gardener.

He reminds me of a visit with a college friend to see her wealthy grandfather who lived in a three-story pent-house overlooking NYC. I was twenty years old, from a small Ohio town and ever aspect of such a life-style was a revelation to me. My home would have fit inside the living room of the pent-house. I was a gauche young woman, slack-jawed with awe at my surroundings, as I was given the grand tour.

Walking down the hall, I noticed a framed photo of a huge estate surrounded by lovely gardens. It reminded me of Jane Austen’s descriptions of Pemberly in Pride and Prejudice. My friend’s grandfather noted my delight and happily explained that this was a photo of his estate. When I remarked on the extensive gardens, his face lit with pride. He said he loved his gardens. He took pride in describing each are of the garden, including the grape vines and winery. “Oh, I know what you mean”, I gushed. “There is nothing more wonderful than sinking one’s hands into the dirt and gardening. How wonderful it is to eat fruits and vegetables, and drink wine from vines you have planted yourself.”

I had no idea this comment would be taken as an insult; but, it was. With a look of utter disdain, I was informed that he hired people to get their hands dirty. He would never stoop to do such low work himself. He was a majestic force of nature on his estate and in his businesses. He was not a gardener.

My joy in gardening was not diminished by his comments. However, my comments diminished his joy in his grand-daughter’s friendship with me. I felt invisible to him the rest of that first, and last, visit. I feel invisible to Rep. Ryan and Mr. Romney. They are not gardeners. They take delight in using the produce from the American garden, but have not had to get their hands dirty. They ignore the weeds which would destroy the American garden. Those who work and even die in the garden to make them rich are invisible to them.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden see us. They are seasoned gardeners themselves, who have toiled long hours getting their hands dirty as well as dreamed big dreams; not just for themselves, but for those of us who are invisible to the men at the top of the mountain.

We cannot become cynical when drought lessens the harvest, although we may be disappointed. President Obama is remarkable that he was able to produce such profound historical changes to health care, women’s pay, openness for homosexual soldiers in the military, way forward for immigrant young people, etc. Our energy production is higher than ever, and oil imports lowest ever. You have seen the list of his accomplishments in earlier blogs.

We cannot become cynical when garden pests  threaten the stores we have created and thought we could rely on to get us through the winter. Despite Rep.Ryan and others blocking him at every turn, the president remains pragmatic, getting the best crop he can under uncertain and hostile conditions. Just as those of us who gardened through the heat and drought have done in our home gardens, as Mrs. Obama does in her White House garden. As we must continue to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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