By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I think about the hardback copy of the Constitution on my shelf at home, given to me by my grandfather, who got it from his father, who got it through the Immigration Office when he came over from Ireland in 1919, and who saw it as little more than a study guide designed to help him pass a test that would qualify him to become something that he never would’ve become had he stayed in Ireland: a despised foreigner. I think about how the book never meant beans to me, partly because I never knew my great-grandfather except through stories told to me by my mother, who remembered him fondly as a foul-smelling lunatic, and partly because a book reputed to be about our rights as free citizens seemed as dull and undeserving of my attention as a book written about gravity. Gravity, I figured, like democracy, always seemed quite capable of existing without my having to contribute any thought to it whatsoever; it simply was, just as the color blue was, whether I existed or not. And just as I would never presume to have the kind of power needed to fine-tune the properties of gravity to fit my own concept of how I’d prefer physics to operate, nothing in my experience had ever given me any reason to presume that I could, or even should, attempt to fine-tune the Constitution to fit my own concept of what I believed freedom and democracy to be.
Maybe what bothers me is that I don’t see any indication so far that Kucinich would ever address any of the unflattering and lazy justifications that many Americans might have for not giving a rat’s ass about the diseased substructure of our democracy. It seems to me that he’d rather perpetuate the idea that we are being murdered as a society by dangerous men in high office as opposed to committing suicide with our own intellectual shortcomings as unimaginative people, because the latter is not an electable platform from which to jump into public office. Is he just one more example of a decent man wishing to quadruple his decency by publicly weeping over the plight of the lepers?
In the end, his love of what the country could be makes him something less than an expert on what the country is, which is perhaps the most compelling reason why nobody should ever call an idealist to fix a broken toilet; his solution might forget to consider the existence of the asshole. Like me.
Suddenly, I see the emphatic wave of Sharon Jimenez from across the park, indicating that it is time for me to chase the congressman around his car with a dirty plunger. I gather my things and hurry over to meet more members of the Kucinich posse, huddled behind the stage.
“This is Marcus, and he’ll be driving you and Dennis to the airport,” Jimenez says.
“That’s the car over there,” says Marcus, pointing past me to the parking lot. “The silver-blue one, the SUV that’s pulled in backwards.”
“I see it,” I say.
“The door should be open,” he says. “Go get into that one, because we’re ready to leave.”
“Quickly!” insists Jimenez.
Walking as fast as I can, I get to the car and reach for the side-door handle, but stop when I notice that the driver behind the wheel is a middle-aged Asian woman wearing a black pageboy haircut and a Kucinich Strength Through Peace T-shirt. I open the passenger door, startling her some, and tell her that Marcus told me to get into the silver-blue SUV so that I could interview the congressman on the way to the airport.
“Oh, okay,” she says, half her brain seeming tight as a fist and focused on the Mace in her purse.
“Well, they said that they’re just about ready to leave,” I say. “Where should I sit? Is he getting in the back?”
“I don’t know, I’m not sure,” she says, furrowing her brow and looking over her shoulder, toward the park, where the crowd is just beginning to disperse.
“Well,” I say, “should I get in the front or the back?”
“Umm,” she says, meaning every m. I wait for a moment, long enough to watch her blink the concentration completely out of her eyes.
“Why don’t I get in the front?” I say. “We can always switch around when he gets here.”
“Yeah, get in the front,” she says, clearing papers off the seat and stuffing them into the center console amid schedules, itineraries and napkins. I climb in and open my messenger bag, take out my notebook and start to unpack my recorder. She introduces herself as Mary, and I give her both my real name and my cartooning name, Mr. Fish. Mary swears that she knows my stuff, but then describes a cartoon with an angry penguin as one of her favorites of mine. I don’t tell her that she’s thinking of Tom Tomorrow.
“What a great turnout,” Mary says. “Don’t you think?”
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