My fallback position – my only position – used to be that nothing we did at the ballot box mattered. Nothing we shouted in the street or wrote in our letters to the editor. Phone banking, door-knocking, meetings with elected representatives, all of it a waste of time.
The system available to us, it seemed to me, was the political equivalent of an Easy-Bake Oven, while the big six-burner ranges in the adult kitchen where the actual cooking took place were off-limits.
A pragmatist friend tells me, sure, the world might be run by “old men under a mountain,” and sure, he used to chafe at that just a little bit, but no more. These days, politics for him is too local to justify any concern about whether mountains get moved. If it doesn’t effect his immediate family or his property lines or his clients, he’s on to other things. In the words of Uncle Walt, it’s a small, small world.
So except for our choice of metaphors, he and I were in agreement, and except in the degrees of our discomfort, we were similarly disposed toward whatever the hell is going on. I’d shake my fist at the uncaring sky because that’s what tragic heroes do, and he’d chuckle because he likes a good show, and after that we’d change the subject. Because neither of us really cared.
Then Bernie Sanders, damn his Svengali socialist hide, invited me into the kitchen. Was he even allowed to do that? I still don’t know. But there he stood, propping open a door I’d have sworn 30 seconds earlier didn’t even exist, pots and pans banging behind him, chef’s hat askew, fragrant steam billowing into the erstwhile odorless corridor.
“In or out, boy,” he shouted, “I haven’t got all day. In or out!”
So I stepped inside. Or stumbled. Or fell. I still don’t know.
And now it all seems like a dream.