A Shameless Brave New World
I distinctly remember my entrance to an awareness of politicians and political life. It was on the playground of the American Grammar School in Buenos Aires. It was October 1952 and I was 10. Most of the students of the school were American. We (including this Argentine) were arguing and shouting epithets at each other. I had no idea who either of the men in question were. But I remember shouting over and over, “Einsenhower in the shower.” It seems that my mother’s liberal views were already steering me towards the Democrats.
Pobre de México tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos
La frase, se le acredita al general Porfirio Díaz, quien gobernó a México durante más de 30 años, pero realmente fue escrita por Nemesio Garcia Naranjo, intelectual regiomontano, periodista, diputado federal, director del periódico La Tribuna y colaborador del semanario Siempre. Falleció en la década de los sesentas.
Poor Mexico, so far from God and so near the United States.
The phrase is accredited to General Porfirio Díaz, who governed Mexico for more than 30 years. It was really written by Nemesio García Naranjo, an intelectual from Monterey who was a newspaperman, a federal deputy, Editor of the newspaper La Tribuna and a collaborator of the weekly Siempre. He died in the 60s.
But November 9, 2016 had, for me, its beginning here:
Addison Graves “Joe” Wilson, Sr. (born July 31, 1947) is U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2001. The district stretches from the state capital, Columbia, to the Georgia-South Carolina border. He is a member of the Republican Party. He previously served in the South Carolina Senate from 1985 to 2001.
He is a member of the House Republican Policy Committee and is an Assistant Republican Whip.
In September 2009, Wilson received international attention when he interrupted a speech by U.S. President Barack Obama to the joint session of Congress by shouting “You lie!” The incident resulted in a formal rebuke by the House of Representatives.
Wilson was re-elected in 2010 by a comfortable 9 percent over his nearest challenger and when he ran unopposed in the 2012 general election he was re-elected with 96% of the vote. Wilson won re-election in 2014 with over 62% of the vote in a three-way race.
That moment innitiated a point of apparent no return to more polite times.
In the ancient Greek democracy, a yet to be called poll tax, enabled only citizens of city states to vote in elections. When Rome was a democracy (before Caesar) political life was based on the likes of patrician families (patricians) making most of the governing decisions for the common folk the plebs.
American founding fathers knew about this reality which was based in their eyes by the idea that only those with an education would be allowed to vote.
In our 21st century as societies become slowly but surely classless, but with men (mostly men) in charge of making the decisions at the top, we have the results that on November 9thshocked the United States and the rest of the world.
In Spanish a person with educación is not necessarily a person with an education. It refers more to the idea of a person having grace and manners. Perhaps we who speak Spanish associate manners as something one learns in good family and in a good school. My mother would often say in my presence, “Hay poca gente fina como nosotros.” This would translate as, “There are few people with grace and manners like us.”
It is dangerous to agree with such a statement in this 21st century. It is dangerous to use the disparaging epithet of “farmer” to describe those who may have voted for Trump in the Midwest. It is dangerous, even, to describe the workers in the rust belt as blue-collar workers.
I remember how in the late 60s and early 70s the word ejecutivo was a classy adjective to describe airplanes, offices, hotels and even secretaries. In the society in my then Mexico City the great unwashed were patronized by the mostly white executives. Then business men (mostly men) were caught in dishonest schemes and followed the Latin American decline in not having respect for politicians. Executives were part of all that.
It is almost impossible for me to explain to my Buenos Aires family that my son-in-law is a Vancouver Trans-Link bus driver. They cannot conceive of this because they are still mired in a society with established classes. Argentine football players have risen up from the class called “cabecitas negras” (little black haired and black skinned men). Maradona was such a person and few in the higher strata of Argentine society ever liked him until he began to win by hook or by God’s crook.
So we in Canada almost live in a classless society. There are the people with homes in the city, farms in the interior and bus drivers, carpenters and plumbers are almost part of it. Outside of those classes we have the homeless and the Native Canadians in their reservations. We in Canada are not perfect but not so bad when compared with our neighbour to the South with their horrific black ghettos.
And yet going back to my mother’s idea of “gente fina” I like to think of presidents like Kennedy, and even both of the Bushes.They had style, a bit of class and the latter Bush as bad as he might have been he still had a sense of decency.
I am tortured by the idea of the concept of the Ivy League, of Brooks Brothers, of women in New York City attending openings at the Metropolitan Opera or or of people going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Are they educated and also educada? Does this apply to people who live in big cities (almost like Greek City States) only?
I think of actors like Cary Grant, Katherine or Audrey Hepburn, Candice Bergen, Duke Ellington and compare them to what we have now. Do their replacements have that graciousness and class? Can we look up to them or do we just enjoy they marital breakups?
President Barack Obama and his wife oozed with grace, elegance and coolness. Perhaps Hillary Clinton might have grown in office to achieve some of that.
My only hope, from my vantage point of Vancouver BC, is that President Donald Trump might just grow in the White House and get some of that “educación” late in his life at 70.
It is my only hope as the wives of world politicians and female politicians of the world at large will make sure their hands are ready to fight off any groping. He is after all “a pussy grabber.”
If my politically savvy mother were alive today she would tell me:
“Sursum corda.” Lift up your heart.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.