I didn’t realize how much I was concerned about California’s recent recall campaign for Gavin Newsom until it was over. We breathed a big sigh of relief when he won. His speech after the election was quite good stating that the voters of California had taken a No vote on the recall and turned it into a Yes for a whole list of progressive policies.
As we left San Francisco, we listened to the news analysis of the election. After Gavin won big, my worries about the voters of California began to shift to pride about living in such a wonderful place. I have always felt that California’s famous progressive politics are a mile wide and an inch deep. I’ve lived and voted here my whole life and I’ve seen our state launch the careers of Nixon, Regan and Proposition 13. It is true that the last Republican to hold state-wide office here was fifteen years ago. And that this recall was a desperate Republican end run around the normal political process. California Republicans are so far out of touch with the voters here that dirty tricks like this are the only way they could hope to gain any power in the state.
As I buried my thoughts in Californianess, I played Beethoven’s wonderful 7th Symphony on our car’s speakers. This is one of my favorites and my mind drifted between this uplifting music and the election. As we drove on through the slim waist of California’s body politic the music began to rise in tone. As the music ascended, so did we through the tawny foothills of the Sierras. As we drove through the town of Auburn, I spotted a scary looking billboard for a survivalist store showing some mean looking dude wearing full body armor and mask carrying a big ‘ol machine gun. Even a few Larry Elder signs popped up out of the weeds. As we drove higher, we noticed how smoky the air became. The Sierra’s famous blue skies were replaced by a somber dull brown gray.
My gloomy thoughts about our troubled state were interrupted by the ongoing brilliance of Beethoven. His music was built on the optimism and struggles of the Enlightenment and the Romantic era. The music of the 7th contained the battles of his time in the shadows of the minor and major chords. One never knows the outcome while listening to this masterpiece, but the general trend is towards something better, climbing towards order, rationality, and light. Like Beethoven, our recent election gives me renewed faith in the future. We can get through these troubled times by believing in the rationality of science, medicine and enlightened practical public policy. Like the measured tones of this marvelous music, a civil civic discourse can start to help tamp down the steady drum beat of rising authoritarianism. Beethoven lived in difficult times, and so do we. But this election, and this music give me hope. As we crested the Sierras, I looked forward to the future.
2 responses to “The Body Politic”
Thanks for including me in your Bloc posts. You are indeed courageous to venture forth across this country during the time of Covid! I just read a very interesting article about how regionalism in the US of A makes us politically more like the European Union than like a country with a congruent political/ social history. This is partly because of the emphasis on States rights built into the US Constitution.
According to the author of _American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America,_ by Colin Woodard, “our country has never been united, either in purpose, principles, or political behavior. We’ve never been a nation state in the European sense. We’re a federation of nations. This confounds both collective efforts to find common ground and radical campaigns to force one component nation’s values on the others.” These regional interest groups or provinces include: Yankeedom, New Netherland, the Midlands (East of the Mississippi), Tidewater, Greater Appalachia, The Deep South, El Norte, The Far West and the Left Coast ( our territory which extends from Big Sur north thru California Coast Range mountains and Oregon/Washington western ridge of the Cascades up to Juneau, Alaska), plus the Inuit dominated First Nation in Northern Canada and New France, (Quebec and Louisiana).
Would love to hear your impressions of regionalism, (dialects, religious beliefs, cultural traditions, music, and cuisine) as you once again travel through areas of the country you have driven thorough and experienced many times.
I know the feeling. Life is such a mixed bag these days, you really have to reach for the positive. ❤️