Rescued by Rachmaninoff
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Recently, I was looking over the slate of candidates in next month’s local primary election. There are some really excellent people running, but the appearance of three names on the list left an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach.
While he was on Whatcom County Council, Tony Larson—who was supposed to be representing the citizens—was secretly working for a rightwing PAC called Clear Ballot Choices. CBC was up to all sorts of mischief. For one, they were assisting the company that wanted to build a massive coal terminal at Cherry Point, a concept that was not universally loved by folks around here. CBC was also working on a redistricting scheme to render Bellingham voters irrelevant in all future county elections. Larson got caught at his stealthy deeds and was handed a maximum fine by the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. And now he wants to be county executive. The arrogance is appalling.
Kathy Kershner is running for County Council in district four. Back in 2015 she lost an election to Satpal Sidhu. She followed this loss by publicly questioning Sidhu’s U.S. citizenship and demanding to see his papers. This kind of low-road race-baiting and xenophobia is contemptible and speaks volumes about Kershner’s character.
Brett Bonner, after sexually harassing a 23-year-old woman, quietly admitted to the Whatcom Republican party what he had done and resigned his party office. The young woman intended to leave it at that, until Bonner then filed to run for County Council At-Large, as if his transgression somehow shouldn’t matter. The young woman went public and Bonner suspended his campaign. But his name is still on the ballot. On the basis of name recognition alone, Bonner could win in the primary. This would be a disgrace.
In fact, all three of the above could end up on the general election ballot, and some might even win in the general election. This thought left me very depressed, which I didn’t need since I was already feeling morose about the possibility that Donald Trump could actually get reelected. This could never happen, of course, in a rational society, but rationality doesn’t appear to be thriving these days.
I tumbled into a blue funk that even over-indulging in Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups couldn’t cure. That’s how bad it was.
Later in the day I opened the Seattle Times. This didn’t help my mood. The first item I read concerned Donald Trump and his bromance buddy Vladimir Putin joking about Russian election interference. How amusing, a foreign attack on American democracy. On the weather page, I saw that the previous day’s record temperature in Southern France was 115 degrees, hotter than Cairo or Baghdad. This reminded me that Trump is a climate change denier, possibly the stupidest opinion any person could hold, except maybe a belief that Trump should be reelected in November.
I considered shooting myself in the head, but I don’t own a gun so I’d have to stab myself in the head, which sounds quite painful. At this point my wife reminded me that we needed to start getting ready to go out. I was so engrossed in my existential dread that I had forgotten it was the opening night of the Bellingham Festival of Music.
That evening I settled into my seat at the Performing Arts Center as the music began. A couple of bars into Glinka’s overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla” and I was already smiling. During Prokofiev’s pyrotechnic Third Piano Concerto I was bouncing with new energy, and by the time we got to Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony I was ecstatic, recharged, cleansed.
None of this made the fraudulence and dishonesty and rancor of current affairs go away, but I felt chipper enough to discard my inky cloak, if I may borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, and do something.
The following Monday I called Whatcom Democratic headquarters to volunteer in any way I might be helpful. Then I sat down to write this column, remembering as I typed some good advice from my editor Tim Johnson: “Push on the things that can be moved, apply pressure to the things that will yield, and laugh at the absurd.”
I don’t know what your remedy for shedding gloom and getting energized might be, but for me music—sometimes Mozart, other times Muddy Waters—can do the job.
The primary election is August 7. Local elections are really important. These people will very directly affect our lives. Vote.