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American Politics

 

Cricket would make a wonderful politician, in the current mold. She has tons to say and repeats it all day long with the same passion and outrage. I’d love to be able to harness that power for good, but she would like to use it to outlaw grooming and vet visits. No more bath time! Stay away from my eye goop! She would wear a Bernie for President Sticker, if he promised her she’d never again have to get her poopy butt washed.

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“Help me, Bernie!”

Cricket’s only difficulty would be the length of the run up to the presidential elections in the United States. Her ideas of argument and persuasion are much faster. You make your spiel, and you get a no. You up the ante, you bark, cry, sing, bite, and you get a no again. You give it one more shot, but that’s it. You need your damn rest.

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“Grr!”

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“Argh!”

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“That was exhausting.”

Watching the news recently, I’ve been wishing, often out loud and using bad words, that our country invested more time and energy in educating us in our history and our form of participatory democracy. My mother used to talk about taking civics class in high school, rather than social studies, and I never realized that she meant something completely different than the vague pass over American history that I’d been given.

Donald Trump says he loves the poorly educated – but why are there any poorly educated people in a country that supposedly has a free public education system through the secondary level? How can he be so glib about the failure of American education?

I resent that it took an endless run of young black men being shot by police for me to even hear about the modern history of black lives in America. Why weren’t lynchings in the South and Red Lining in the North part of my basic education? It’s not like I was protected from images of graphic violence in school – we studied the Old Testament in yeshiva every single day, for God’s sake! I was supposed to be okay with learning about rape and incest and beheadings and whole towns being shmiced by god, but I couldn’t be told about horrors that happened in my own country, in my own century?

We haven’t invested enough time in reinvestigating our history and coming up with ways to improve our democracy. Just imagine what we could accomplish as a society if we were already steeped in our full history before we even entered college. Imagine how many ideas our kids could generate for how to make our country a better place?

It also wouldn’t hurt to throw in a few lessons in empathy, here and there.

I think it’s interesting that so many presidents have pets, often dogs, and even the Clinton cat, way back when, but political candidates do not bring their dogs along with them on the road, or put them in commercials. Obama even had to wait until he was in the white house before he could get his daughters the puppy they’d been begging for. Would Jeb Bush have had better luck on the campaign trail if he’d, say, brought a chocolate lab up on to the stage with him? Maybe if Donald Trump had to carry a long-haired white cat in his arms, people would be able to see him more clearly for what he is.

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(not my picture)

Butterfly would not make a good politician, because she wouldn’t last two seconds on the debate stage. As soon as the screaming and insults started, she would scamper off to hide behind a curtain. Like me.

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“Is it over yet?”

The current election cycle reminds me of when we used to play Dodge Ball in elementary school. The whole class, boys and girls, would be split into two teams and given red kick-balls to throw at the other team. Some kids really seemed to enjoy taking aim at their classmates and hitting them with as much force as possible. They don’t allow this game at most elementary schools anymore, because it is too brutal, and too mean. But it would fit right in at the Republican presidential debates.

I still feel intimidated by people who are certain that they know what’s best. I am overwhelmed by the amount of confidence politicians must have, to talk constantly to crowds and reporters and believe that what they are saying is all useful and good. My social anxiety, though it is much better than it used to be, will never be down at politician levels.

And I have to wonder if just a little bit of self-doubt might be a good thing in a leader; just a little bit of room to question the heinous things that might come out of your mouth. Even Cricket knows when she’s gone too far.

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

109 responses »

  1. Cricket for president in 2020.

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  2. At this rate, Cricket looks like the strongest candidate to me! Thanks for a very thoughtful post!

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  3. Hmm, I like what you wrote very much.

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  4. Draft Cricket. Good piece.

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  5. I’m with Cricket!!! And, I’m in agreement with you on at least 85% of this blog entry. It’s almost shameful what I did not know of America’s so called history going into college. Shameful.

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  6. Excellent. If animals ran the world! It would be far more democratic and the ‘bad’ things that happened would be for natural reasons…

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  7. You make a good point about Donald Chump and his “poorly educated” bloviating. I’ve become pretty numb when it comes to listening to all the talking heads, but I’ve never heard any of them make the observation. Way to go. girl!

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  8. Well said. Our current political climate makes me very sad. Empty rhetoric and Twitter have replaced any real analysis and insight, at least on the Republican side. I shudder to think what will happen once the candidates have been chosen, who would ever really want to be president?

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  9. I think Cricket has the right idea. Yes, those dodge balls stung when they hit!

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  10. I’m glad you said “down” to politician level and not “up”.

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  11. One of your best posts, Rachel. Because all of them are great, I should put today’s material under a very special category. Thanks for your words and for your civility! Bravo!

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  12. Cricket for President – even with her biting issues 😉 By the looks of it, Cricket still might be the best option 😉

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  13. Great post. In addition to a civics class, schools could throw in something on ethics.

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  14. Your post is woderful. Very thought provoking. I am Scottish and I feel we were never taught history the way it should be taught. We should have a good understanding of what has come before us so that we may avoid the atrocities that have already past. Also, we were only taught about the men in history, yet when you delve into it there were so many strong women. Why is it only now we are starting to really break the glass ceiling.
    Anyway, your post has given me some hope! Xx

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  15. Good morning Rachel – yes I’m here on time!
    Very thought provoking post, thank you Cricket for sharing your views with us…..Pussy Willow is of the same ilk – scratch at door and cry, scratch at door and yowl, bang and door and yowl – go back to basket!
    I think that many countries histories have ‘selective memories’ and unless these things are taught then there will be no one left to remember.
    See you next week
    Lindy x

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    • One positive is that there are now a lot of books on the market to help people learn what they missed out on in school – but not enough, and not advertised well enough either.

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  16. Scary stuff in an excellent post

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  17. So agree with you about the current campaign! Yes, having a dog beside you would definitely make you more electable! Pip and the boys

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  18. I vote Cricket and Butterfly over trump every day of the week! Feel the Bern! 💜

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  19. Despite the possibility of being shmiced by my friends I would join the Dog Party, or a better name: the K-9 Party.Their slogan: ” A bone in every home (or yard).”

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  20. Wonderful insight, as always! Cricket for president!!

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  21. Well said. Americans might even learn about cricket (the game, not the dog). Mind you, http://www.seattlecricket.com has an excellent summary of the rules and nature of the game and of its history in America.

    There are many really admirable things about the USA, but those people who say it’s “the greatest country in the world” (presumably having visited all the others, unless they just mean “most powerful”) should consider why it’s a country of such extreme variations between wealth and utter poverty. It isn’t alone in that – I’ve just come back from India – but no way is it inevitable.

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    • I’ve always wondered why people need to say that the USA is the best or greatest country. I know it takes longer to give an actual description of the strengths and weaknesses of a country, or a person, but it would be much more interesting to listen to.

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  22. I couldn’t agree more. I have never seen such malicious malarkey in an election cycle – honestly, it’s the worst…an embarrassment for the entire country. I remember Dodge Ball, too – we played that in East Texas – I say line them up and give these bullies a HUGE ball to throw at each other. Let the chips fall where they may, and then write in Cricket.
    Great post.

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  23. Great post! I really love the way you write about current things in the world from the viewpoint of Cricket and Butterfly. I’m guessing that these doggies probably know a lot more about the history of just about everything than most other dogs…!

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  24. Can’t say I understand American Politics and at this moment it seems to be about who can be the most obnoxious. Like most of the rest of the world I worry about this election of yours. Our politicians are a bit more conservative – they stab each other in the back, even if it means destroying their own government and damaging their own party – but they smile whilst they do it – smiling assassins. Gillard stabs Rudd / Rudd stabs Gillard – Turnbull stabs Abbott – Shorten stabs everyone. In our world you only have to worry when people tell you they you have their full support. Cricket for President!!

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  25. really enjoyed this one! Laughed and shuddered. You make some excellent points! I would like to see a Cricket/Butterfly ticket…third party of course. I’d wear the button for sure. Trying to think of some clever play on “Make America Great Again”…can’t think of anything this morning though. 😀
    Make America Gravy Again!

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  26. Great observations. It is becoming increasingly heartbreaking that the country has devolved into the current state of hate-filled reality. ღ

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  27. Love the Dr E reference, perfect. I have spent a large portion of my life becoming educated, largely not through a school – you should see the library I’ve accumulated and the places I’ve been. Oh, I’m glad Cricket would work with cats as I have several!

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  28. I enjoyed reading your thoughts. From an outsider’s perspective I wonder if this is one of the major differences in the way the US and Germany teaches their students – the Germans spend a lot of effort teaching about the atrocities of the past, the Americans, not so much. Not that either is a perfect nation even today, but it’s interesting to see the different approaches.

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    • I think we would do so much better being taught these things early on, and with the help of compassionate teachers, but really, anything would be better than the way we’re doing it now.

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  29. Your Butterfly and my Chicki are so alike – hiding from it all…

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  30. I sooooo love reading your blog… seems butterfly and cricket are part of my life too ❤

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  31. Great post my dear! And agree – Cricket and his tongue have the best idea!
    As far as history – that has always been MY issue as well – when I lived in the south it was amazing what THEY taught us (different version for different places) aka – when in Texas it was what the Mexican’s did, when in Mississippi it was what the blacks did… talk about STUPID.
    It’s also fun to be dating a Dane, who gives me HIS history of NATIONAL history and yes, I found through much internet research that there is a lot that we in US were not fully told.

    Ouch, sorry for the rant! Off to go explore Singapore now…

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  32. What a fun post. Really enjoyed reading it. Cricket has my vote 🙂

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  33. Enjoyed your post and agree with your take on the current state of American politics and the dearth of civics education among the populace. I also love the image of the remaining Republican candidates going a few rounds of dodgeball!!

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  34. I loved reading this!! I smiled the whole way through. Cricket has my vote!

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  35. Mr. Trump, along with most of his Republican brethren, seeks to keep us uneducated because only the uneducated fall for his/their schtick. People who know to think for themselves and to research before falling for a line do so.

    As for learning about lynchings and slavery in the US, back in the 50s and 60s, those things were still taught. I remember well a horrifying photograph in one of my history books showing a lynching, and being taught that this was a shameful part of our past. Of course, I was also in school while schools were being desegregated. My third grade teacher brought a television to school and we watched as Black children entered a white school under heavy guard.

    That you and so many other young people write about not having learned any of this in school tells me just how far the Texas school textbook monopoly has gone in re-writing U.S. history to suit their narrow, biased, bigoted, racist views. I understand that textbooks in schools this year include lines that refer to Black slaves in the first several hundred years of our history as “workers,” never once mentioning that they were ripped from their villages and families in Africa, brought in chains under the most dangerous of conditions to this country, and sold at auction to the highest bidder, then forced to work at their owner’s bid and call, under threat of the whip and death.

    Thank you for bringing this up.

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  36. Well and eloquently said. Viewed from here, the US seems to have gone barking mad, (apologies to the honest markers of the world). Perhaps we should choose leaders by how dogs feel about them. I read that Richard Nixon was such a horrible person that his dogs had to be bribed with biscuits to go anywhere near him and I’m sure any self-respecting dog would let Donald Trump know what it thought of him. What about a line up, like the line ups when you have to identify a criminal? Anyone bitten or growled at would be out immediately.

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  37. I love your insightful and interesting perspective. I think an animal at their side would help politicians. Maybe it could have a lot of bearing on their success! That’s a good point you make about Trump loving the poorly educated. Why? And why do we have this segment of the population in the first place? Funny how no one has mentioned this at all! Great post!

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  38. Beautifully written! Cricket for President! I think animals are so much smarter than humans. I made the decision to date my husband because my cat “Boots” approved of him. That solid black cat hated ALL HUMANS AND ANIMALS except for mama. (As in me). What did Boots do during their introduction? He scented him everywhere he could and politely curled up next to Sam and went to sleep! I probably looked pretty stupid standing there with a water bottle in each hand and eyes as big as saucers! My husband and I may have issues just like any other couple but he has never laid a hand on me in anger, called me names, cheated on me or spent our rent money on drugs or booze. I thinks Boots did a pretty good job.
    If Cricket has no desire to tackle the mess we have become then I agree with the idea of having a line up with the candidates and let the dogs pick the best one!
    Really awesome story. Thank you very much.
    Hugs,
    Leah

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  39. I’m always suspicious when politicians trot out their pets during election run-ups – I am so cynical I wonder if the animal was bought at some stage to make the pollie’s family look complete. Sad, isn’t it? But that’s what our politics (American & Australian & no doubt many other voting countries) have come down to – whoever talks the talk and looks the best at the time wins. I can only say that I’m at least happy to live in a country (Australia)where we CAN vote, and aren’t likely to be shot or threatened while doing it… I do think your idea about candidates having to walk through animal shelters is a good idea though 🙂

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  40. love it!! Love your puppies!!

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  41. So Cricket is a Democrat – I always suspected as much. I guess the fundamental question (yes, I hate that word too) is ‘whatever happened to democracy’? Maybe it’s one of those illusory, wraith-like things that have no substance. Like freedom.

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    • Words are such floppy things, especially in English. We almost never mean the same things as someone else using the same words. I think the names of the political parties are essentially meaningless, especially when you think about Democrats who, not long ago, advocated Slavery and Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. But Cricket feels strongly that the politicians she supports should be inclusive and respectful and, most of all, compassionate.

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  42. Ha, ha! Love this post. Millie and Pearl would make great politicians, except with them the pile of steaming crap comes out the wrong end!

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  43. Everything you said makes sense. The candidates are a scary lot to be sure. I never really thought about how lacking education in this country is before I started traveling. You learn so much in little snippets here and there about the history of countries you never knew existed from what you learn in school, and each one fits into the history of the world as a whole.

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  44. My favorite sentence from your article: “How can he be so glib about the failure of American education?” Thanks for writing this from a unique angle.

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  45. I’m not American but I really enjoyed this post! There were parts of it that made me laugh out loud, the mix of humour and getting your point across were in perfect balance. I really enjoy reading your blog-keep up the good work!

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  46. You certainly do have your work cut out for you, cleaning up poop, fighting to bathe dirty dogs and cleaning goop out of eyes.

    If my dogs were politicians, one of them would duel with his opponent, another would lick his constituents until they agreed to vote for him, and the other 2 would sleep on the job. 🙂

    What Trump said was misconstrued. It was part of a sentence where he expressed his love for all people — from the most well educated to the most poorly educated. Once you hear the entire sentence, it makes sense. As far as people who are running for President, I’m certainly not amused with the lineup.

    When I went to Civic’s class, I was taught that this is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. Kids often had shotguns hanging on racks in back of their pickup trucks and many people carried pocket knives, yet no one heard of incidents that involved guns or knives. My senior class had 945 people, so it wasn’t a small school. We used to understand that there is no such thing as “safe.” If my mother were alive today, she would be appalled.

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  47. Great Piece: loved the Donald with the white cat…lol….great idea about the candidates in the Animal Shelters.;;;

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  48. The teacher in me likes this even more than the dog-lover in me. TELL it, girl!

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  49. I agree with so many of your thoughts in this post! The part about Trump & the cat pic–hilarious!! 🙂

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