In the first grade Doug Givens and I fought every day after school. Doug lived one block south of 12th Street and I lived one block north. Each afternoon at 3:15 p.m. Doug and I would meet at the intersection where he would turn right and I would turn left. We would flail away as we grabbed one another and held on until our white tee shirts tore away. We engaged in this behavior for about two weeks. Our war ended without a formal armistice when our mothers figured out why they were meeting at the J.C. Penny Store tee shirt counter two Saturdays in a row. I have no clue why we started fighting, but our mothers had both of our fathers make sure we knew peace was the preferred new normal. Back then fathers shaved with straight razors and straight razors were sharpened with a thick leather strop. Behavioral modification was instant and permanent.
My mind returned to those halcyon days when the cable news purveyors of our current political fiasco published the latest imbroglio between the national Democrats and Republicans. One pundit suggested that the atmosphere in Congress was so volatile physical aggression among our elected representatives was a probability.
This comment brought forth the spectre of the May 22, 1856 caning by southern Democrat Congressman Preston Brooks of northern Republican Senator Charles Sumner. You will note the antebellum date. Slavery was the issue. At least, unlike Doug and me, those guys back then knew why they were upset.
In 2019 the issues calling out the very worst in our leaders are every bit as puzzling to me as why Doug and I saw fit to render asunder each other’s tee shirt. Why are those people constantly at one another’s throats? What divides us as a nation? Is Civil War about to break out again? Does our credo about all people being equal mean squat? Am I just unable to appreciate the great debate?
Or are the infantile machinations of our highly paid federal employees much like those of two first graders? Perhaps we should require all members of our federal government to show up for work in white tee shirts or maybe red and blue ones. As for how we outside of Washington, D.C. might respond to the waste of our tax money on ad hominem silliness I suggest we do have a razor strop of our own; it is called a vote.
By the way, Doug and I got together at our 50th class reunion. We still do not have a clue why, but we sure had a good time remembering what.