We have a good friend who lives in Washington D.C. She was part of Oodgie's wedding party, and has always been able to make us laugh. To be one of our friends, you have to be able to take a lot of teasing, and we incessantly tormented her about her vegetarianism, sobriety, and furniture (when we last visited her, she still had her "My First Stereo" next to her TV). She always took it with a laugh and played it up. But there was one topic about which she was always a little touchy.
Now, I have lots of Republican friends, and we always get into spirited discussions around politics and issues. But it's good-natured and respectful; we often agree on much more than the talking-heads would have you think. I never let politics get in the way of a friendship.
But this particular friend is a little more active in politics than the rest of us. She helped run the successful re-election campaign of a New England senator (who apparently is crazy and has a weird psychological aversion to staples). Then she moved to Washington and worked for the EPA. Then she worked in the communications department at Homeland Security. While working there in late August 2005, she had planned to come visit us in New York, but things got a little busy at the office and she had to cancel. Although she loves her career, she seems to have a knack for taking jobs that explode around her, and for some inexplicable reason (to me) she's now taken another local job in a slightly higher-profile department.
One the one hand, my sympathy for the catastrophes that happen to her is somewhat limited. After all, I have loathed the current administration since day one. I think they are incompetent liars who have always put personal or dogmatic interests ahead of logic, reason, compassion, or accountability. I take great pleasure at watching the catastrophe's pile on top of them--it reinforces my sense of karmic justice.
But I also see first hand the impacts that this has on the individuals who have to deal with it every day. Our friend is a good person trapped in a tough place, trying very hard to make ends meet and do the right thing for this country because she believe in it. She doesn't agree with the way things have been handled, but she's doing more than me...trying to repair the damage and keep the wheels moving so the benefits we all reap (and take for granted) are there when we need them.
Despite all the vitriol I spit towards our current government, she's a stark reminder that there are thousands of people like you and me who aren't evil, who have to not just shoulder the burden of protecting our way of life, but bear the hatred of people like me who curse their names and unfairly blame them for all that's wrong with the world.
So next time your knuckles get white over the state of our union and the decades it will take to undo the damage, take a moment to remember all the good people who are toiling away in the trenches of government, trying to do things right.
Did you have your moment?
Now let's get fired up to send the rest of those jokers packing in '08. Let's hope the damage is reversible.