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on politics and patchwork

liz lamoreux

On July 4, Jon and I spent quite a few hours inside, still in our pajamas, watching The History Channel. They had a day-long marathon of the show Revolution. I came in, sleep still in my eyes, at about the time of the Boston Massacre (which really wasn't quite the massacre I had been lead to believe it was with each U.S. history book I have read). Over the next couple of hours, I must have said five times, "That John Adams is so smart. Crap. Why can't someone like him make decisions now?" We watched several episodes and took a break around the time Ben Franklin was becoming the "toast of France" as he was trying to persuade their King to help the thirteen colonies with the war.

After showering and working for a couple of hours, we tuned back in. Washington, who I learned was more than a little confused about his stand on slavery while at the same time having a black man for a best friend and having one of the clearest, most open minds of the time, was starting to hone in on a possible final victory. I must admit I was a bit surprised that the war was still going on several hours later seeing as though it takes us about a week or two to get through it in most U.S. History classes. As we watched the Founding Fathers create the Constitution, I heard a bee in my bonnet begin to buzz as I realized something that I suppose I already knew but hadn't honestly spent a lot of time thinking about: These men completely realized that they were "passing the buck" on the "slavery issue" on to the next generation (and as we know, the many, many, many after that one). These incredibly intelligent men who had said to the most powerful country in the world at the time, "Thanks for being here and helping us but we are so over your help now and just want to do our own thing." These men just passed the issue on. I was more than a bit pissed off about it.

Jon and I talked about how we had all these "aha" moments while watching these episodes of this pretty incredible show. My husband is someone who retains a lot and always seems to know the little facts about things (not to mention, he is the smartest person I know). He can read and watch things and remember the details. He is also someone who loves to learn and watches The History Channel and The Science Channel and all those others quite often. This is to say that the fact that he had aha moments during this show means that there is A LOT that people do not know about the American Revolution. In the way that I sometimes do, I started asking questions that I know he doesn't have answers to…like…"do you think George Bush knows anything about this? Do you think he knows anything about our country's history? Do you think he understands one bit about this? Do you think his staff looks at the Constitution?" Of course, Jon does not have these answers and usually said, "Sweetie, I don’t know." He doesn't often get angry in the way that I do. He stays a bit more even about it all. (I would have been the one burning my bra and he would have been the one picking me up from the police station with food for me to eat. The quiet supporter doing his part.)

Yesterday, I spent a lot of the day cutting and then sewing together pieces of patchwork. I am working with a "log cabin" patchwork design right now. And, I guess I spent so much time with it late into the night that my mind couldn't let it go. I dreamed about it. But, my dream wasn't about me doing patchwork. Nope. My dream was something along these lines: There was an entire room of politicians each attempting to figure out log cabin patchwork. To be honest, I don't remember what happened next. I am careful not to assume that if you couldn't figure it out, you were "out of there" because even though it is a bit of a puzzle and if you have fabric running a certain direction that you want "upright" or "sideways," you have to sew things together very specifically, it might be that the GWB's out there would have an easier time than the greatest political minds in history. Hard to know. (This is why I should have written it down when I woke up and shook my head trying to clear the "Tetris-like" patterns so I could go back to sleep.)

Imagine if we could just have a room where all the politicians would have to take a test? Maybe morality tests or tests of virtue would be one way to go. Heck, maybe the best way to decide who should remain in "power" would be to simply test on the Constitution: What it says a President can and cannot do. What the Supreme Court has ruled about this. Maybe we could add a few questions like: The thirteen colonies wanted their independence because a) they wanted to tax coffee instead of tea and those darn Brits wouldn't let them import coffee, b) Britain was becoming too liberal for them and they wanted to make sure they could still have a monarchy, c) they were distressed that the British military would wear only red coats and simply wanted the fashion of the time to change, or d) they wanted a voice in their own government and wanted representation if they were to be taxed.

A follow-up question could ask if the test taker thought that the Founding Fathers experiment should be scrapped in exchange for "all the government/political power" to be moved into the Executive Branch. Anyone who answered yes would have a door suddenly open underneath his or her chair and we would instantly know they were a Cylon. They would be immediately replaced with someone whose ideals most matched those of John Adams or even that "tomcat" Benjamin Franklin. We would no longer have to put up with politicians who think they are kings. Nope. Republican or Democrat. This test would weed out those seeking a shift into the new twenty-first century American Monarchy Experiment.

(Big deep breath.)

I could, of course, keep going here. But, as you know, this isn’t a political blog. No. It is more of a meditation meets crafty meets poetry meets being honest about my hiccups on my journey type of blog. But, last week, after reading a few articles on CNN.com after Bush commuted Libby's sentence; after walking down the hall to where Jon was working on more than one occasion to express my one sentence essays about my feelings about our President and then whirling around to go back to my little room; after spending several hours with the Founding Fathers and wishing we had anyone, ANYONE, who could stand up and be heard and be rallied behind like those men in the days before the Revolution, I find I have to speak up a bit.

Where are those people? The ones who will stand up and be heard? The ones who will write Common Sense and speak their truth.

I read one today. (This is the article that was the impetus to get these fingers typing all these words this morning. I read it in its entirety for the first time this morning.) Bravo to you Mr. Olbermann. I don't usually like those shows where people do all that yelling. In fact, I avoid them. But you sir, yes, you deserve a standing ovation. (Thank you for shouting.)

As I write this, I have to go back to the Founding Fathers' decision to "not deal with" the "slavery issue" when they believed that all men are created equal…but they didn't want to "deal with" the southern states who would not join the union if the "slavery issue" was dealt with. By passing the buck, they, in many ways, created the Civil War. I recognize that we cannot know what would have happened with this newborn country if men like John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson had decided to address it. However, what does it mean to consciously pass something this huge onto the next generations?

I can't help but wonder if Bush thinks about these things when he and Rove and Cheney make the decisions they do that affect many generations to come, perhaps more than they affect us now.

I can't help but wonder if they think about the ramifications of their choices at all.

(Another deep breath. I will now resume my quest to send compassion and bring these people to my altar. I will try. I will try.)