Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 295 Politics and Persistance

Roy got arrested last year in front of the White House. He was protesting with 250 others. He had a sign hanging around his neck: "WW II Vet: handle with care". They didn't handle him with care. Police handcuffed his hands behind his back; took him over to a Paddy Wagon. Roy is eighty seven years old and unsteady on his feet. He couldn't climb up the steps. The police pushed him - "roughly" up and in. He laughs about it as he tells me the story and segued right into another protest he participated in up in Canada over logging practices almost 20 Years ago. This story reminded me of the time he spent walking the street in Sarasota as a sandwich board. He was encouraging voters to support the Green Party. Roy is a Harvard grad with a Phd from the University of Chicago. He is an inspiration.

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

Roy is not an inspiration in all regards. He has his faults but when it comes to political involvement he stands out. I met Roy during my failed attempt to enter the political arena. Roy was working for my opponent in the primaries yet called to see if I would talk to him. After our talk Roy changed horses. He worked hard and we became lasting friends. He shames me when it comes to being a politically astute citizen.

Is that so important - to be politically astute? We all know the correct answer to that question. Our elementary teachers taught us that democracy demands an educated citizenry. It is easy to see the need.

Election season always brings this issue to the fore. We can ignore politics some of the time but it is hard to do in a presidential election year. More than a few dollars are spent to influence our choice. I live in a state that is not targeted for persuasion and therefore have not seen one TV commercial nor have received any presidential fund raising letters. Two reasons for this may be that we don't watch television programs other than those we get via Netflix that have been scrubbed clean of commercials and that I never open what is called junk mail.

Staying informed is another matter. I do agree with my elementary teachers concerning the necessity of staying politically informed. Of course television commercials and bulk mail advertisements have nothing to do with staying informed with anything more than commercial attempts to sway. My information comes from books, magazines, NYT, and friends. I hesitate to mention NPR because I think it has declined in reliability over the years. The CBC does continue to be more helpful.

It is hard to choose reliable sources. So many causes have created publicity agencies and entitled them "think tanks". Most are nothing more than ad agencies. It requires some effort to sort through the maze.

The thought, "I just want to give up on the political scene" sometimes takes up residence in my mind. I rationalize; "I've been working on political issues for fifty years and that is just about enough. Let the new generations have their turn. Seems like their ought to be a few years of life when you should be able to kick back and let the world run on - without me." Perhaps I am just moving in to a new zone in life. Roy Ingham never did.

Dick Smith another friend and an earlier contributor to these podcasts remains very politically active. He is eighty-six. He writes a politically oriented letter to the local paper each month. Since 9/11 he has never missed. He also carries a sign in protest almost each Friday afternoon in front of the Federal Building. He reads voraciously political and history books. He reads the New York Times daily. He attends political party meetings. He also exemplifies political involvement inspiration. He never weakens.

Presidential conventions just ended. We have been inundated with political promises that border on absurdity. These convention use to be places of action where candidates would vie for votes to become their parties nomination. Today the voting is all done prior to the convention. Delegates are pledge to certain delegates through primary elections. Everyone knows who the nominees will be.

The delegates do bring forth ideas for the party platform or beliefs of where the party should place its efforts in the next four years. I'm sure these "planks" as they are called have some value in giving general guidance. I harbor skeptical doubts about the effect. They do provide intellectual credence to each party and that alone has some value. The media pays scant attention to the platform. The emphasis is on the presidential nomination and all of the hoopla that accompanies the process.

Now the Supreme Court has unleashed corporate influence on our political process. They have allowed unlimited money to be spent on campaigns. The fortunes of these massive international business seems unlimited.  Only a few people at the very top decide who should be on the receiving end. When I consider sending my $100 to a candidate I pause - and sometimes stop - in light of the knowledge that my small contribution boarders on absurdity. Free speech is suppose to be the issue in contributing money to a campaign. I can give the money to a candidate that I support and he or she can use it to better present themselves to the voters. When I throw out a hundred dollars and someone else can throw down multiple millions of dollars  my voice is definitely drowned out. We called it "spitting into the wind" when I was a kid.

Oh, I know when many people contribute along with millions of others it counts up and of course it does. However the opposition also contribute along with others. There sum total creates a voice with the power of a whirlwind.

It is reasoning like this that makes my friends efforts so impressive. They do not give up. They do not go fishing or take a hike. They continue their effort to become well informed. They continue the effort to sway political elections and decisions. It is this attitude that impresses me. It is this hope that life will get better.

This is Retirement Talk.

If you have questions, comments or stories to share contact:






Follow Retirement Talk on Facebook: on Facebook