“Meanderings” by Jim Peters

I have been reading essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson, specifically his treatise on History, which he denies the existence of, but he does mention that Biographies are real. He compares man to mosquitoes, leaves, and other forms of life. He argues that all history is subjective because it is formulated to propogate an explanation for a political leader’s decisions. Biographies, he argues are more relevant because they are objective. He makes a good point.

What does that have to do with my mind? Probably not much but it is interesting fodder for a good philosophical discussion. “Nature is a mutable cloud, which is always and never the same.” I like to read older writing because the writer is now perhaps wiser than we are in our world of Internet Technology. Instant gratification is like printing on your computer or putting your ideas on a blog. I am guilty of doing both.

One thing that does make older authors interesting is their lack of knowledge of the two second sound bite. They write from their knowledge and from their hearts. They do not form their opinion based on a small amount of information, they come to their conclusion in an argumentative way, they use their writing to change opinions or clarify theirs. We are voting for one of the most important Presidents of the United States based on two second sound bites, not volumes of position papers. Is there any wonder that we are frightened of our choices? We have not written, like Emerson did, great treatises on our thoughts. We need to. It might be boring, we might have few ideas, but our ideas are as important as Emerson’s. What we need to do is write them down and not send them through Facebook or Twitter.

What we have to do is try to get our ideas published. In Thoreau’s time it was not uncommon to spend your own money to be published. His book on traveling the Concord and Merrimack Rivers was self-published, My father, Wayne Peters, wrote a very good, engrossing book about the Middlesex Canal. He paid for their publication and I still get orders for them even now. We all have a book in us, publish it.

As always, I have a few comments on the election. First, the presidential race. I noticed on the news that the President was appealing very favorably to the younger voter. I also noticed that Mitt Romney was appealing to the white male voter. When my brother-in-law, Paul Tsongas, announced that he was going to run against Edward Brooke, the black Senator from Massachusetts, he was asked how he could justify it in his own mind. “I believe we have crossed that barrier” he countered. We had not totally. John Sununu tonight implied that Colin Powell endorsed Barach Obama because of their mutual skin color, not the virtues of their intellects. I personally believe that race is in that picture.

On the Senatorial side, Scott Brown has finally come up with some good commercials saying what he stands for, and why. For too long, he has been in a mad, as in barely fathomable, attack mode. Now his latest commercials are decent and about his goals. Elizabeth Warren is trying to make a niche in the fact that a vote for Scott Brown could turn the Senate into a Republican body. That is a good tactic, a fair one.

On the Congressional side, Jon Golnik had quite a few supporters, who did not follow the moderator’s rules, by the way, at a debate I had the pleasure of attending. Niki Tsongas had the best line, however, when she said that Golnik, if sent to Congress, would be “irrelevant” because of a pledge he signed which would keep him from being able to vote on financing the government. That is just what we need and want, a Congressman without a wish to fund the government. With all of the millions of dollars that Niki has brought into the district through negotiation, she deserves to be returned.

So, what are my predictions? Well, I have made them to a few people. We shall see if I will be right.

One Response to “Meanderings” by Jim Peters

  1. Greg Page says:

    I agree that Sununu is a total jerk who shows no respect for a retired four-star General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of State when he makes comments like that. Clearly, other people of Powell’s stature would not be held to that standard, so there is a repugnant air of racism in what Sununu said.

    Also agree with you that we’re not *past* the racial issue today. Anyone paying any bit of attention can see that there are people who resent the fact that we have a person of color as President.

    However, as far as the way it matters, we have to look at the net effect — not just a couple yahoos at a rally who hold up signs that say things like “let’s put the White back in White House,” etc.

    In 2008, President Obama won Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada — three states lost by both Gore AND Kerry. He also won some of the whitest states in the union — places like Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa. Furthermore, he did something Gore couldn’t do at all (winning in the old Confederacy…VA, as mentioned above, but also NC and FL). In 2008, Obama brought a lot of new voters into the system as participants — PART of the strength of the Obama “brand” came from its differentiation…he was not just another middle-aged, rich white guy running for President.

    We can’t deny that race matters. We should stay away from demagogues on the left who attribute any criticism of the President to racial animus (they need to go read the things that were written about Thomas Jefferson during his time!) AND stay away from those on the right who say that it’s the *only* reason Obama wins popular support.

    I have no idea how we’re going to move beyond race as a nation, but neither party is blemish-free in my opinion. On the right, there are pockets of out-and-out racism and xenophobia; meanwhile, on the left, there is the condescension/commodification/exoticism that leads some people to constantly describe people of color as “inspiring,” “amazing,” or “awesome” before taking the time to really learn about them as individuals.