Winter, Discontent, etc.

It's been a busy few weeks. 

First, Kelly celebrated the first anniversary at her new job by accepting a promotion to Acting Assistant Branch Manager, with a shot at taking the position permanently. (Getting her second raise of the year in the process was not an unwelcome development.) Basically, when her regional manager describes her as a "rock star" at work, the label seems pretty accurate.

I went through the time-consuming but necessary process of tallying grades and writing comments for all my students. This is in no way a new experience, but I do have to say Seven Hills makes the process easier in at least one way: instead of having all comments due on the same day, the deadlines are spread out: grades for Bridge (our version of 5th grade) and 8th grade students are due on Friday; 6th graders' are due on the following Monday, and those for the 7th grade come due on Wednesday. This gives both the teachers writing them and the administrators reading over them a much more reasonable opportunity to finish the comments in a timely manner.

My sixth-grade US History students have, for some reason, developed a fascination with the saga of the Malheur NWR occupiers, greeting me at the start of every class with, "What's up with Vanilla ISIS?" Part of this, I recognize, is the universal desire among students to talk about anything other than the actual lesson. At the same time, they seem genuinely interested in some of the issues being raised, possibly because we're after all studying the American Revolution, and ideas about what the government can and cannot do are kind of important in our discussions. Mostly, though, they're happy to learn more terms for disparaging the Bundy gang. "Vanilla ISIS" is far and away their favorite, but a few enjoyed "Wal-Martyr" as well. A recent reference to one of the remaining four occupiers as "Gunhaver" provoked some puzzlement, at least until I showed them the relevant video of the Cheat Commandos from Now they're walking around campus singing "BUY ALL OUR PLAYSETS AND TOYS!" so I can feel that my attempts at making them culturally informed are being successful

They're also starting to spout off occasional opinions about the presidential election, which, given the fact that most of them are 11 or 12 years old, don't have the benefit of broad experience or deep historical foundation. Still, given our nation's current level of political discourse, they're probably about as well-qualified to analyze the candidates' behavior as anyone. I myself have settled comfortably into a position where I don't feel the slightest concern about deciding who to vote for, which is frankly a little surprising.

My various political posts over the years have probably left little doubt that I am a firmly left-of-center kind of guy, and in an election where there are multiple left-of-center candidate, you'd probably think that I'd be thoroughly worked up about which one is deserving of my support. But in fact, the opposite has occurred, primarily because of the horrorshow that the modern Republican party has become.

Even if you ignore the damage done to our nation by the last Republican administration--and that's one hell of a thing to ignore--it's just about impossible to look at the seemingly dozens of GOP candidates without seeing them as a mob of unfocused reactionaries, raging against anything remotely outside their comfort zone. If you support the idea that maybe American Muslims are, y'know, Americans, with the same freedom of religion that belongs to Christians, you've got no place in the party; if you think perhaps police officers shouldn't be so quick to shoot unarmed black people, or god forbid openly claim that those people's lives actually matter, you've got no place in the party; and if you're of the opinion that providing preventive health care for millions of Americans might not be the greatest crime against our nation since slavery, you've got no place in the party (except maybe at one of Mitt Romney's parties.)

Consider, for example, that the three leading GOP candidates in this post-Iowa/pre-New Hampshire moment have all explicitly condemned the Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality. Donald Trump has complained that it should have been left to the states. Ted Cruz has proposed that Congress strip federal courts of jurisdiction over the issue, a plan that does at least have a certain creativity about it, whatever Antonin Scalia ends up saying when the dispute inevitably comes before him. And Marco Rubio has claimed that he will fill the Supreme Court with justices who will reconsider the issue and "interpret the Constitution as originally constructed," which should concern anyone who wouldn't have been allowed to vote or own property in 1789.

In short, I may have disagreements with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, just as I have had them with Barack Obama, but those disagreements pale when I compare them to the disagreements I have with even the most moderate GOP candidate. And when I consider what a Republican president, backed by a Republican Congress, could do to our country, I'm ready to vote for anyone who'll keep the White House unoccupied by anyone with an (R) next to his/her name. I don't know if Sanders or Clinton could actually fix all the problems facing the US (particularly with a Republican Congress), but I do know that those problems would multiply like Zika-bearing mosquitoes once Congress approves President Rubio's Supreme Court nominations: Cliven Bundy and Sarah Palin.

In short, feel free to argue for either HRC or Bernie to your heart's content I don't care. Maybe aspirin won't fix my headache; maybe acetaminophen would do the job better. But given that the other party supports either shooting up opium, sprinkling powdered black rhino horn in my tea, or sawing through my own neck, this November I'm gonna go with a little white pill.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on February 6, 2016 11:43 AM.

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