Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Dangerously Bored

Raise you hand if you're bored. Raise your hand if you think you have a touch of attention deficit whatever. (On that second one, my hand is definitely up.)

I'll bet you've seen that most-emailed NYT piece about how ADHD was a good thing back when we were all hunters. It only became a liability when we settled down to grow crops. Before baguettes and tortillas, a little restless curiosity and a smidgen of thrill-seeking went a long way toward putting dinner on the table. These days, with no wild beasts to ward off, we're hunting Ritalin instead. It takes a boring man to tend a boring crop.

But that need is still in there, isn't it? That dream of something new, something daring. This leads to many ill-advised behaviors. Also to hangovers. It's the chief cause of bad personal decisions, like marital infidelity, and bad political decisions, like our periodic urge to throw the bums out.

This new guy is so cool. He'll be exciting. Not like that putz Im stuck with now. Political demagoguery is like tequila. It makes someone you should know better than to fall for look beautiful.

It's election day. Tonight we'll be sucking on limes and dancing on the tables. The hangover will come later. OMG, this one looks no better than the last one. No, wait, now that I think about it, he's uglier. What was I thinking?

I'm a Democrat. I'm an Obama man. I was so excited when he won. I bought all the hope and change stuff. The difference between me and many Americans is that I'm still excited about him. Well, excited is not exactly right. Satisfied would be more like it. Still committed. As in good personal partnerships, even as the passion heats and cools and (hopefully) re-heats, the love remains.

Many want a divorce from Obama. His fellow Democrats running for re-election in red or purple states, even some blue ones, are saying they never much liked the guy themselves. He's under political house arrest. His nose is pressed up to the mullioned windows of the oval office like a loyal dog who has been left behind and doesn't understand why.

He has disappointed us, many say. He has made us look weak on the world stage. He broke his promise to close Guantanamo. He broke his promise to be a president of peace not war. He broke his promise to bridge the partisan political divide in Washington. He passed that terrible health care bill that let all those deadbeats get insurance partially paid for by our tax dollars.

Pick your poison. Everyone has a gripe about Obama. He's not Mitt. He's not Hillary. He's not Elizabeth Warren. He's not even himself, at least not who we thought he was.

He leaves his clothes on the bedroom floor. He spits his toothpaste in the sink and doesn't rinse it. He doesn't share the housework. He never brings us flowers. We think he's bored with us. 

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that we're so over Obama: the national divorce rate is fifty percent.

Maybe the new lovers we take today will turn out to be the loves of our lives. It happens. More likely, they'll spit toothpaste in the sink too. The thing is, if you want to build a relationship, if you want to build a life together based on mutual interests and commitment, with little shots of spark now and then, you have to stick with it. You can't be starting over all the time.

The problem is that often we don't know what we want in a partner, in life or in politics. We keep searching. And the searching means changing. And the changing means we don't make much progress toward building something enduring. You have to be patient to build something that lasts. We're not very patient.

Personally, I'm not disappointed in Obama. He's pretty much what I expected he wold be. Absolutely what I expected from a policy standpoint. I might have wished he'd have the political magic or cunning to be more effective in working across the aisle, but oh, well... At least he stuck to his ideological guns. Maybe he didn't shepherd through as much of the progressive agenda as I'd hoped he would, but he held off the revanchists.

There is danger in impulsive behavior. There is danger in the ennui that precedes it. We know that, but still we go to the party and order shots and look around for something new. We can't help ourselves, apparently. When we settled down to farming ten-thousand years ago, we left ourselves without daily outlets for our need to be reckless. Since then we seem even to have forgotten that the need lives on within us, and that, when it comes to setting a long-term political agenda, it's not doing us any favors.

1 comment:

  1. Fortunately, we don't have to 'build a life' with a president. He's a president, not a king........which may be news to him.