Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Day 2016

Civic Duty

So, I got to my polling place, New Horizon Presbyterian Church, around 8:15 AM CST...

"Dude, I need a bath. Soon."

Unlike the evening of the Iowa Caucuses back in February, I didn't have any trouble finding a parking spot, and there were no lines or long waits. It took less than a minute to get checked in, receive my paper ballot, and get started filling it out...

"I predict he'll do well today."

Iowa is one of 11 states where the pro-life conservative Evan McMullin has a ballot line, which made things much easier for me...

"Looks good on me, don't you think?"

I didn't try to snake one of the donuts they had provided for the poll workers, but I did accept the customary brag sticker...

You're so vain...I don't know where you get that from...

Political Literature

When I first took an interest in politics around 1967-ish, I quickly learned that there wasn't much really good fiction with a heavy emphasis on American politics.

I did enjoy Seven Days in May, All the King's Men, and The President's Plane is Missing, but once
I discovered the works of journalist Allen Drury
I had found a reliable source for knowledgeable and entertaining political literature.

I bought and read the paperback edition of each novel in the so-called "Advise and Consent series" when it appeared in my local bookstore, but
I wasn't prepared for the unusual cliffhanger Drury used to conclude 1968's Preserve and Protect, the fourth book in the series.

That cliffhanger was resolved by TWO sequels, each of which posited a different political future for the United States. The darker of those two futures was portrayed in 1973's Come Nineveh, Come Tyre, and that's the story that is much on my mind today.

It is still amazing to me how prescient Drury's novels have proven to be with regard to the role media and culture play in our national politics (mostly not a positive role).

"So he was a pessimist like you, then?"

Compared to me, he was a ray of sunshine...

Political Movies

There have been a number of political motion pictures I've enjoyed over the years, including the cinematic versions of Seven Days in May, All the King's Men, and Advise and Consent.
My late best friend Matt's favorite film was Primary Colors, which I also enjoyed, and the two of us watched Thirteen Days together quite a few times as well.

As it happens, though, my favorite movie about politics isn't about American politics at all. Fred Zinnemann's 1966 A Man For All Seasons is at the top of my list.

I am mindful of that film today in particular, as so many people struggle with their consciences in light of the candidates listed on the ballot.
St. Thomas More's refusal to abandon principle certainly resonated with me at my polling location today...

"Someone was threatening to cut your head off?"

It's a metaphor, jackass...

The West Wing

The nuts and bolts of America's national politics have never been more skillfully portrayed on network or cable TV than on the Emmy-winning NBC series  
The West Wing.

Although the show's main leads are almost all progressive Democrats, there was much for this particular conservative to embrace, not least the program's belief that people can disagree in good faith about political and social issues, using reasoned argument to try to find a consensus.

The episode where the show's President changes his mind on school vouchers, for instance, was one of the most even-handed discussions of the issue ever shown on an American TV drama.

Much as I enjoyed the show's sarcastic banter among the leads, as a writer and as a lover of spoken English I also loved how often the show paid homage to the power of eloquence. It was a constant theme of the show that beautiful rhetoric was to be preferred to bland, poll-tested pabulum. Here's a typical scene with that message...

Don't Crowd Me!

From the pen of Lisa Benson, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of my favorite musical artists, W.G. Snuffy Walden, did the main title theme for The West Wing TV series, for which he received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music in 2000.

Walden is a gifted composer and musician whose television work has been nominated for a dozen Emmys, including a Best Original Score nomination in 1994 for the miniseries The Stand (one of my all-time favorite soundtracks). His main title theme
for The West Wing is his lone win to date, however.

In January 2001 Walden released music by..., an album which contained several of his TV themes including those for Felicity, thirtysomething, and Once and Again as well as for The West Wing.

I bought the album for The West Wing theme, and was delighted to find that there was an extended version of it as well, but the whole album is a treat. Snuffy is as gifted
a guitar player as he is a composer.

Today's send-off is the extended "suite," conducted by fellow composer Pete Anthony, from Pete's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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