Sunday, November 4, 2012

My House - American Electorate in Microcosm

I have recently come to realize that my house is America's electorate in microcosm. First, you have the Democrats. That would be me and the cats. We are patient and cooperative. We always use our litter box. We will agreeably move over and give someone else room on our chair. We respect one another's possessions. We survey each situation calmly and react rationally.

Then we have the Republicans, which would be Mom, who used to be a fervent liberal - generous-hearted and compassionate - until Alzheimer's turned her severely conservative, and lastly, Chantilly (whom I call DB for Dumb Blonde), the little blonde Pekinese puppy, who is totally heedless of anyone's needs but her own. The cats and I are capable of deferring gratification. Tell Paisley you'll fill her food bowl as soon as you finish a blog and she'll sit quietly until you're ready. Meanwhile, the Republicans throw a fit at the mere suggestion that their wishes should be postponed - barking, jumping, yelling and whining incessantly until they get their way.

Oddly enough, the dynamic that is in play here makes me understand the electoral process more clearly.The immature, self-centered conservatives win more often simply because they beat the liberals down with their absolute relentlessness.

If Mom has misplaced her glasses, yet again, she expects you to drop what you are doing and start searching right now, even if it is the last two laps of the NASCAR race. If Channie tells you that she has to go potty, you had better be quick because, otherwise, she will simply go on the floor to teach you a lesson. And I hop to please both of them because it is easier than seeing Mom start throwing things out of drawers in which there is no likelihood she left her glasses or having to pick up poop.

Mom and Channie live in a world of denial. Mom no longer thinks she lives here. She constantly fills sacks to take "home". If I remind her that she can no longer remember what pills to take or how to make coffee, she scoffs. "I could get along perfectly fine without any help from you." It is rather like the Republican - "I built that myself" mantra that was the theme of the Republican convention. (Oh, except for that government contract, of course, and the public schools and interstate highways and trade agreements and small business loans and tax abatement and government research and development and maybe a little rebuilding assistance when you got hit by a hurricane....)

Channie thinks every toy is hers and every treat is hers and first choice of where to be is hers. If one of the cats is on the loveseat, she'll heckle them, then only stay a few minutes before moving herself. It wasn't the loveseat she wanted but simply to prove that she could have it.

Paisley and Slate and I watch the other two with bemusement. The two cats sit on the back of the sofa pondering Mom's choices for filling her bags. I expect they wonder, as I do, why she includes several shoes (sans mates) and red shoe polish but no red shoes, a pair of salt and pepper shakers and a package of needles (although she no longer sews). I notice she's snagged my precious new bottle of vanilla from the pantry (real vanilla now sells for approximately the same price per ounce as Chanel No. 5). The bags also contain a clock and a doll and one of the t.v. remotes.

To me and the cats, there seems to be no method to her madness which is much the same as I feel about Republicans. As when Obama took over after Bush, I have to come in and empty all the useless sacks and put things back in order again, i.e. ending a war we should have never started. Now the Republicans appear to be gung-ho to start refilling those sacks again

One inviolable quality that Mom and Channie share with the Republicans is a complete unwillingness to compromise...Not.At.All. Offer them a deal like the Democrats did of $10 worth of deficit reduction for each $1 of a tax increase on the rich and they will tell you flatly - "no way - it's my way or highway." If that means no jobs bill when unemployment is high, so be it. If it means lowering the country's credit rating - if it means no exceptions for abortion - if it means not extending the Violence Against Women Act - if it means saying no to Equal Pay for Equal Work - if it means means voting 33 hopeless times to repeal Obamacare while letting the rest of the country's business go to hell, so be it.

Like the Republicans, Mom and Channie can keep you in a state of perpetual befuddlement. You can offer them something they approved of yesterday but they've decided they hate it today. Channie, for instance, once loved her tennis ball but now she scorns it. Mom, for her part, has always had a taste for strawberry jello so I bought 6 boxes in order to have plenty on hand. This morning when I asked if she wanted me to make some, she looked at me like I was crazy - "I've never cared that much for strawberry jello." Huh? (Remind you of anything? Like Cap and Trade or the Individual Mandate?)

You cannot appeal to Mom and Channie's sense of fairness because they have no sense of fairness. You can't try to shame them because they are shameless. You can't beg for sympathy because the pointer doesn't even budge on their Compassion Meter.

The cats and I give up in the face of their implacable intransigence. Paisley and Slate go upstairs, ceding the whole lower level to the dog, simply to avoid her harassment. "Okay, Mom," I tell my mother wearily, to get her off my back,  "I'll take you home tomorrow."