This past week, after the events in Arizona and markedly different speeches by Obama and Palin I started to reflect on the state of American politics. I wrote a post on the shootings, hate speech and civility but then realized what I was saying is not much different from what others have already said. So I didn’t publish it but still had the desire to write something……
As a Global Citizen blog it doesn’t do much good to simply jump into the domestic debate and simply emphasize what is already being discussed. We have to do better and serve the internationals who read this blog.
I thought perhaps it would be useful to explain to my foreign friends what our current political situation is like. However, I didn’t want it to be just another political rant on how terrible things have become, they already know that. Then, as if I was struck by lighting, it occurred to me.
The current American political environment is like a dysfunctional household! I could explain things quite clearly in story form and perhaps entertain a bit as well!
So without further delay, let us get started. For those of you who are not American and might not understand our politics, I’ll spell it out for you.
1. The Household = America
2. Sally (The Wife) = The Democrats
3. Jeb (The Husband) = The Republicans
4. Ned (The Neighbor) = Libertarians
Once upon a time there was a couple who lived in a well built middle-upper class home in the suburbs. It had been occupied ever since anyone could remember by Jeb and Sally McFarland. To the old timers, they had always been a successful couple. Sure they had their arguments but even so were quite influential in the neighborhood. Sometimes it would seem that Sally was the more active partner leading the PTA, holding bake sales for the school and volunteering her time for community events.
Jeb was very active as well but in a different way. He was the president of the elite business community, leader of the strike breakers and never seen without a suit. He was pretty ruthless in business affairs and helped the town gain a lot of business, usually at the expense of neighboring cities. To him, it didn’t matter whether other towns thrived or not, he wanted what was best for his own and many loved him for that since they became rich. It was not unusual in his younger days to see him pass by on the way to the local Moose Lodge, the exclusive club for wealthy, white business leaders. Of course women were not allowed in this club as it was a throw back to those gentlemens’ clubs of old and tradition was important. If you stayed late enough you could watch them stagger out around midnight smelling of cigars and Glenlivet 18 year old single malts.
But recently the town has hit hard times due to big loans that are unable to be repaid and jobs have been leaving in droves. Where did these big loans come from you may ask? Well, Jeb convinced the business leaders to move their production to China so bigger profits could be made. Things were profitable for a while and as cash was plentiful Sally used the excess cash to provide the entire town with free cookies.
But without jobs the townsfolk had no way to spend so they took out loans. Sure they had free cookies but this wasn’t enough to run their households. Sally saw what was happening and tried to hold more bake sales but as everyone was pretty much sick of baked goods at this point. Recently, Sally has been seen crying as she cannot raise enough money for the school or to help her dearest friends. So, with her deep community connections she borrowed quite a bit of money and gave them to the neediest of the community.
Jeb, along with others has not escaped the downturn and lost his job. Now instead of suits he is wearing a t-shirt with a picture of a monster truck and an American flag for a bandanna. For the past couple of years he has also been acting very strange and is scarcely a shade of the man he was before. He gets drunk nightly at the local Hooters restaurant and has been seen cavorting with this hussy from Alaska. He can no longer afford Glenlivet and now rarely seen without a Budweiser in hand. He gets all liquored up and starts ranting about how our town is “completely awesome.” He gets this flare in his eyes, starts hugging his bar mates and says “I love you man, we ordinary folks need to stick together you know!” This leaves Patrick the barman quite confused as Jeb never would have set foot in his bar in earlier days let alone spoke to the common citizenry. But now that he too has fallen on hard times he is just “one of the guys.” Further, when he is really drunk he starts talking to that hussy from Alaska about politics which completely shatters the code of the now defunct Moose Lodge. What’s worse is that he even now agrees with her!
But, that hussy has really been bringing in the patrons. She doesn’t know much but damn, when she starts to speak those boys just sit down and listen! As it brings in good money for the bar nobody cares how retarded her ideas are. Just last week she joined in the political discussion and said “Boys, you know we need to stick with our North Korean Allies!” As everyone was completely hammered they all had a great laugh and said they wanted to elect her as President. It was a good time for all.
But, as for Jeb in his drunken rages, which is almost constant, and when he is not hugging his bar mates, he picks fights with just about everyone else. Quite a few years ago he even went over to the neighboring cities and picked fights over there! There is some debate about who won and it may never be known. Sally tries to calm him down and to act civil but that just makes him worse and he beats her daily.
When Jeb found out that Sally raided the community finances to help out her closest friends he went ballistic and left her with a black eye. Some overheard him say “Damnit woman, it is all your fault, you made me this way and if people get hurt then you have nobody to blame but yourself!” Sally at first being strong told Jeb he was full of crap and if he would just stop drinking and picking fights with everyone things might improve. This earned her two black eyes.
So, Sally changed her tune and tried to pacify Jeb by offering him some concessions. She would no longer bake 12 batches of cookies but only 6. When Jeb saw the 6 batches of cookies however he threw them on the floor. Before he could reach them, she offered him a cookie to which he replied “Damnit woman, if I want a cookie I’ll make them on my own, I don’t need your damn handouts!!”
To add to Jeb’s anger he recently learned that Sally had taken out a healthcare policy on their four children. Now, if I haven’t introduced the children to you we have from oldest to youngest, Edmont II (Named after Jeb’s great-grandfather), Harry (After Sally’s father), Track and Jose. Jeb really didn’t like the name Jose but it was Sally’s turn to pick a name and she wanted something exotic. Also, she just wanted a bit of revenge for Jeb naming their 3rd son “Track.”
Anyway, Jeb found out about this policy for the children and went nuts. “If these children need healthcare then they can damn well get a job and pay for it themselves! I’ve worked for everything I’ve ever had and my parents didn’t give me nuthin!” Of course this wasn’t true as Jeb’s father was Edmont I (A very rich gentleman) and Jeb never had to lift a finger. Perhaps it is all the alcohol which has left him a bit confused.
So far, Sally has been able to hide the policy from Jeb but this might not succeed for long. The hussy from Alaska advised him to look in all the obvious places like under the bath rug and behind the toilet but it wasn’t there. Sally has wisely kept it hidden in an organic, fat free yogurt container in the fridge. No way Jeb is going to look there.
Now it is time to introduce Ned. Ned is Jeb and Sally’s next door neighbor. They have never, ever let him into the house but really hold no hard feelings towards him. In fact Jeb has been known to invite him to a cookout on occasion as they do share a few hobbies.
Ned does have a reputation for being strange, but when engaged is well thought out and his ideas sound even if a bit weird. Jeb invites him to cookouts because they both are avid gun collectors. Ned collects guns because he likes the beauty of the craftsmanship and has been known to use them as props in historical plays. Jeb on the other hand mostly collects guns just to piss off Sally and sometimes has delusions that the terrorists are coming.
As far as any townsfolk can remember Ned used his gun once to scare off an intruder which might have been just a local hooligan who was on his property at night. Jeb on the other hand came home drunk once again ranting about terrorists and ended up shooting a squirrel who he took for a Taliban member with WMD.
Yes, Jeb has been having some problems recently and since he is out of work he has got it in his head to stand on a soap box in the middle of the square and start yelling, basically about nothing. Sally tries to distract everyone by yelling herself as she is very embarrassed but her voice just cannot compete with Jeb’s. Once a townsman told Jeb to get down and shush and they ended up getting into a fight. During the melee some innocent bystanders were hurt. Sally asked Jeb to apologize and Jeb said “Woman, this is your fault, if you didn’t piss me off so much I wouldn’t act this way. It’s all your fault!”
The townsfolk wish Sally and Jeb would just get along like before but things look pretty bad now. The children are quite confused as well. Jeb promises them all kinds of things to get them excited but rarely delivers. One Christmas he promised them all a bunch of presents but then got in another fight in the neighboring town and the family’s finances were completely drained to pay the legal bills which amounted to $1,000,000. This was devastating but somehow he convinced the kids that it was Sally’s fault for baking too many cookies.
So, the kids thought dad might be having some problems and started looking to mom. Mom was still baking cookies but once Jeb told them mom had taken out a payday loan for those cookies which would result in no Christmas presents this year they turned on Sally and started hugging Jeb a bit more. Now he is back to promising things but if he is not careful he will just get into another fight which will result in even more legal bills. Those kids are in tough shape and need someone to turn to but even though Ned looks on with concern they are still quite afraid of him.
Unfortunately, due to these mounting problems, it seems Sally and Jeb might be heading for a permanent split. Sally has encouraged them to start seeing a therapist but Jeb steadfastly refuses. Sally went on her own and the therapist recommended they start holding hands on a daily basis but this is hard as no matter what Sally does Jeb is going to complain about it. Once, Sally went to the thrift store and bought a new dress as well as clothes for the kids. Jeb noticed the clothes and again started to go berserk. Sally said that it would lift the spirits of the household and thus good for everyone. Jeb shouted “YOU LIE!” It wasn’t the words that hurt Sally so much as the fact that Jeb decided to shout this during Sunday morning church services and the entire congregation heard. To this day, nobody has been that disrespectful at church but it might be because Jeb was drunk again after sipping on the booze he had hidden in his pocket.
The parish priest was very concerned about Jeb and invited him to confession. During the talk Jeb did admit he had been frequenting a relatively new store called Fox Liquors and Porn a bit too much. The booze there was just too addicting and the employees were smokin’ hot. The parish priest at first told Jeb he should stop going but when Jeb told him they also sold Bibles and the smokin’ hot employees all wore crucifixes the priest told him that perhaps this new store wasn’t all bad, just be sure to read a Bible passage or two while drinking the booze.
Even though Jeb is drinking too much and ogling the employees of Fox Liquors and Porn too much Sally still tries to kiss and make up. Just last week in the town square Sally tried to hold Jeb’s hand but he just looked in the other direction. She went into an ice cream store and bought some treats for the kids and Jeb and even though it was Jeb’s favorite (Plain Vanilla – with absolutely no chocolate chips, nuts or anything, just plain white) he berated her in front of everyone for spending money. Then to her dismay the kids said they didn’t want any treats either which really broke her heart.
Sally told her therapist about this episode and that what really hurt her is that even though she thought she was doing something kind for her kids they simply refused and ran to Jeb. The therapist explained that sometimes abused kids will try very hard to earn the approval of those that hurt them the most. It’s a tough situation and not easily resolved.
As the town has become increasingly concerned there has been talk of removing the children from the household. Jeb is just so darn violent and Sally cannot do anything about it, in fact, it seems she is trying just a bit too hard to pacify her abuser.
It just so happens however that Ned has been looking to adopt and might just make a wonderful parent. But alas, the townsfolk still think of him as a bit crazy and it might seem unnatural to entrust four kids to a single guy, never married who might even be gay. Sure, he has absolutely no baggage, is quite successful in his own right and quite a good teacher. He detests violence and has never once been known to pick any fights. He simply cannot understand why Jeb finds it so necessary to go to other towns and start trouble when he is quite content in his own town. It is not as though Ned is weak, he has plenty of guns but would prefer to keep his own house in order rather than go start trouble elsewhere.
Ned also has never taken out a loan so his finances are very secure. Perhaps the kids would do well under Ned’s direction but again, this is just not an option for the townsfolk and the kids are still a bit scared of him. One issue may be that Ned just might be gay, or he might not be. It is very hard to tell. This bothers the crap out of Jeb. Yes, he likes Ned to an extent because he has guns, but a gay gun holder Jeb just cannot accept. Jeb once invited Ned to hooters as a bit of a test. However, it was hard to tell if he were gay or not because he not only looked at the waitresses but also spent a bit of time looking at Billy. Further, the hussy from Alaska had no affect on him. This troubled Jeb.
Anyway, Sally and Jeb remain in a dilemma and if things do not improve, well, then they just get worse I guess. Jeb continues to decline and now has been known to shout profanity at the handicapped, foreigners and even old ladies. Sally continues to try and keep Jeb under control but that is a lost cause, no matter what Sally does Jeb is just going to yell. She told him that his constant anger and profanity were not productive and that she was still upset about the outburst in church.
Jeb not liking this criticism tried to come up with a stinging reply but as his brain was so awash in alcohol really could come up with nothing better than “NO, YOU ARE. YOU ARE IRRESPONSIBLE!” Sally pleaded and tried to get Jeb to understand he was the one doing all the yelling. However, he just responded, “I know you are but what am I?”
In fact, this conversation was overheard just yesterday.
Sally: Jeb, you know you really have to stop all this yelling. People are starting to talk!
Jeb: No YOU!
Sally: Jeb, I beg you to stop drinking, you are no longer making any sense!
Jeb: NO YOU DON”T MAKE NO SENSE!
Sally: JEB, PLEASE BE CIVIL!
Jeb: YOU BE CIVIL!
Sally: Quit repeating everything I say!
Jeb: NO YOU!
The poor kids have no where else to turn as all they have ever known is Sally and Jeb. They both promise Christmas presents and even though with Sally they might get a cookie or two they still believe that a big payday will come from their alcoholic father. As the therapist says it might just be a normal reaction for abused kids.
It is at this point we must leave Sally and Jeb but the story will continue as time goes on. Maybe Jeb will eventually start holding Sally’s hand and from there things will get better? We shall see.