GRABBING A POLITICAL HANDRAIL

At the suggestion of Terry Rindfleisch (I didn’t see you in the audience, Terry) I went to a lecture at UW-L given by David Gergen, a political analyst for CNN. His talk was titled “A Return to Civility.”

I didn’t agree with everything he said, but I did agree with him that no matter who is president for the next four years, it’s going to be tough getting things back on course. What we need most, he said, was a return to civility and a willingness to get along. The candidate best suited to that purpose, he said, was Joe Biden.

And I find myself agreeing. I haven’t been happy with the way Biden has bumbled and stumbled through this campaign. But I also haven’t liked how the Democrats have turned on each other like a pack of wild dogs. That’s what the Republicans did last go-round and that gave us Trump. We should have learned from that.

But Gergen said something else interesting. His theory is that liberals (read Democrats) are interested and are willing to work for candidates. But conservatives (read Republicans) go to war for their beliefs and will fight to the death.

That’s not a pretty picture he paints, but it gave me a lot to think about as I left the UW-L student union along with a crowd of students and some oldsters in my age group.

The first thing I noticed as we took the stairs down is people in my age group gripped the stair railing. Students, on the other hand, touched no railings and, indeed, one guy sauntered down with his hands in his pockets. Had I done that, I would be in an ambulance on the way to the hospital instead of sitting in front of my keyboard.

Maybe that’s why I want an old, moderate guy to be our next president. I don’t want decisions made willy-nilly without good thought. I don’t want a president who trips over his lies because he won’t hold onto the handrails of facts.

But mostly, just like David Gergen, I want civility. And I want a president who won’t lie about a pandemic because he’s afraid of what the stock market is doing.

So good luck, Joe. You’re going to need it as much as I need handrails descending the stairs.

 

The Impeached Geri Parlin

For a few hours today, it felt like I was on the debate stage in Nevada.

As is usual for me, I had spilled out my ire against Trump on Facebook and the usual cast of those who agree showed up in the comment section.

But so did some who disagreed.

And I’m OKĀ  with a difference of opinion as long as those who disagree deal in facts and are not disagreeable.

But they weren’t civil and they weren’t factual. One disagreeable fellow in particular was calling me out for a review I wrote in the La Crosse Tribune three decades ago.

Now I know how Michael Bloomberg feels about having to defend himself for Stop and Frisk.

I admitted the disagreeable one had a point about that review and I apologized — something the Impeached Trump has never done. But, as is often the case with those who disagree, they would not stop. They just kept pounding. So for the first time since I joined Facebook about a decade ago, I blocked two people. That was hard for me to do because I’m a big believer in the First Amendment.

But I decided I didn’t have to put up with this on my feed. I took 36 years of slings and arrows as a reporter and reviewer and for that time I swallowed all my well-written but cruel retorts to those vile letter writers and let the readers cover me in unanswered acrimony.

I didn’t even threaten to rip anyone’s head off. That was my favorite threat to my sister Therese when we were kids. It wasn’t effective in my teen-age years because Therese was stronger and probably knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t rip her head off. And in my adult years, I realized it was inappropriately violent to make that threat.

Instead, I unfriended. So I have two less friends — make that one. The other guy wasn’t even on my friends list. Let them spew venom on their own feeds if they so desire. If they do, I won’t know about it and can’t threaten to rip their heads off.

A win for both sides.