To a Minnesotan, “polarization” simply means winter and it happens every year around Thanksgiving: you praise the Almighty for His bounty and in the morning the temperature drops thirty-five degrees and the water heater quits and the fuel oil bill arrives and your winter coat, thanks to the bounty, is two sizes too small. The current usage of “polarization” is way off the mark: we are one people and we are skeptical of raging idealism and wary of aggressive authority — in other words, conservative — and we come to the aid of the helpless and accept a high degree of personal liberty — in other words, liberal.
Something like the Russian invasion of Ukraine unites us, tanks attacking apartment buildings: the reality of pure evil clarifies our own situation. Our problem isn’t polarization, it’s Twittification, which is undue attention paid to twits and the inherent decency of the vast majority who patiently listen to shouters and bemoaners and handwringers and weigh what they say even if it’s unintelligible.
Calm down, people. So Ginni Thomas urged the White House to dispose of the 2020 election. Her perfect right. She did not, however, personally go to the Capitol on January 6 and bust down doors and go in and attempt to hang Mike Pence. Give the woman credit. Give No. 45 credit. He could’ve marched on the Capitol, leading a convoy of tanks, and seized the electoral ballot boxes and declared himself president for life, and if this had come up before the Supreme Court, would Justice Thomas have recused himself and would the Court have struck down the lifetime appointment and if they did, how many tanks do they command to enforce the decision? No, it was only a show. No, 45 sat in the White House and watched it on TV and two weeks later he went back to Mar-a-Lago.
I once was an alarmist myself and wrung my hands daily and succeeded in becoming miserable, which in Minnesota is an excellent way of making others miserable, so I considered getting a therapist, but then sanity struck: the idea of sitting in a small room with venetian blinds and degree certificates on the walls and telling a young woman with close-cropped hair that my father hadn’t hugged me when I was a boy struck me as a waste of a perfectly good hour, so I didn’t.
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There are millions of mentally ill in America who desperately need care but it’s hard work and few wish to deal with this. State mental health hospital systems were mostly demolished years ago, because conditions in some were horrendous, and so “deinstitutionalization” took place and now the mentally ill languish in small facilities, some even more horrendous but not so noticeable, and others wander the streets homeless, and a great many wind up in prison.
For a country that imagines itself to be Christian, this is bizarre. Jesus wept for the leper, the demon-possessed, the sick and helpless, and in this country we put them where we don’t have to look at them. When I fly into LaGuardia, the plane descends over one of the worst hellholes in America, Rikers Island. New York state finds itself with an enormous budget surplus. Democrats run the state and the city, and will they fix this horror that is staring them in the face? Don’t count on it.
The Christian faith sets high standards, some of which must be ignored: “Ye cannot be my disciples unless you give up all you possess,” Jesus said, which suggests we’re to be nudists, which is not possible in Minnesota. So nuts to that. I cannot live without my coffee maker and my laptop computer. Google will recover in an instant the line from the psalm, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies,” and so I’m keeping my table. Google also finds me that great Nichols & May sketch in which he kisses her passionately and while locked in the kiss she opens the corner of her mouth and exhales cigarette smoke. It’s on YouTube.
I don’t put her exhalation up with “preparest a table,” but comedy is a gift, and it’s perishable, like kale, but the computer preserves some of it fresh as can be, and for the pleasure of seeing that kiss and the woman exhaling, I guess I have to accept the twitticization and of course I have to love my enemies and I plan to take on that project as soon as Rikers Island is cleared. Keep me informed as to any progress.