Getting a little tired of politics yet? It seems as if every screen you see these days has a political headline screaming out at you. Turn up the volume and a gaggle of pundits will be arguing with each other over the importance of somebody else's tweet. Casual conversations among friends about the topic of the moment suddenly turn political, ending in anger or disgust.
Deep in the woods of the Coast Range we have Internet access and cable and satellite TV, so we stay decently informed of news of the day. From here, 21st Century politics are a strange show to watch. Not because we’re any kind of hillbillies or such – most of us are sensible, reasonable folks who happen to have just a little bit of hermit in us.
We simply don’t care a whole lot because there’s nothing reasonable about American politics these days. There are far better things to do in life than learn the intricacies of a game that’s obviously rigged, or play the role of taxpaying rube to a bunch of Capitol carnies and grifters.
So we don’t talk politics much when we congregate at church or events like the talent show/dinner buffet fundraiser for the local food bank. When we do, we don’t pretend to have all the answers in the way that most politicians seem compelled to pretend. You won't hear angry words or see one person strike another unless more than a little alcohol gets mixed with just enough politics – but that's a recipe for trouble wherever you are.
It’s a loose-knit community of very independent people who may vote Democrat or Republican but live like Libertarians. We generally share an amazement over the things politicians won't do about actual problems, and how eagerly they offer solutions for things that aren't really problems at all.
Our main concern is that the popularity contests America stages instead of holding honest elections tend to produce winners whose actions have bad repercussions even on the edge of society. The town folk set the tone; the town politicians play the tunes; we all pay for their performance. Sadly, the past few decades have offered some truly pathetic performances at local and national levels.
More than our fair share of folks are cash-poor. The monthly boxes handed out by the local Food Bank are a clear indicator of how close some families are to going to bed hungry at night – but most of us have enough resources to sleep warm and eat well enough. There are even a few rich folks living out here, too.
We know that, like a wind vane, most politicians are basically money vanes – whichever direction the most cash is blowing in from is the direction they turn their faces, while their principles usually end up downwind. So it's no surprise when politicians ignore rural citizens, as we are few in number and can only exert a small economic pressure.
We know that Big Oil offers standing bribes to our current crop of federal Senators in the form of campaign cash, and we know what each Senator is worth – about half a million dollars per year for each Senator who publicly supports Big Oil, with a hundred grand even for those few who don’t.
We also understand that the rule of law doesn’t apply to the rich and powerful, especially if they are bankers. That was proven a few years ago when the federal government confessed to the belief that no crimes are committed when big banks steal a few billion dollars from the national economy. And we, too, believe that some laws are just not right. If we need to ignore a law in order to do the right thing, we will do exactly that and lose no sleep over any legal transgression that might have occurred.
So these days we mostly talk about the weather. We disagree on what’s causing the climate to change, and some folks aren’t too concerned over it, but we all know it’s happening. Much like the insurance industry, we can spot a long-term trend beginning and we’re making our plans accordingly.
When the weather turns disasterous, we'll be better prepared than the townfolk who obsessively follow what passes for the daily news while watching video on a tiny screen. While the majority of Americans are wondering how to survive the current political climate, us woodsfolk are listening to the wind whisper through the trees and planning to survive in the planetary climate of tomorrow...
Rob Lafferty is a former newspaper editor and National Affairs columnist who lives near Triangle Lake.
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