POLITICS – FEH
It’s our downfall, our damnation. And, our salvation, our only way out.
If that sounds like a tough puzzle to solve, well, it is. But like scientists searching deepest space or researchers looking for that magic bullet against cancer, it is an endeavor worth putting our time, energy and hearts into.
I entered college with my childhood dream of becoming a doctor determining my choice of classes. One semester of the rigors of biology, chemistry and calculus punctured that dream, and I crawled off to seek a double major in psychology and political science, two areas that had always interested me. It didn’t take long before I realized that I could not explain the world, to myself, through those lenses. So I fell back on what I knew I could do fairly well, writing, and eschewed an English major for the other writing choice that seemed more likely to provide a career living, journalism. Proving once again that God has a sense of humor. Journalism may not explain the world per se, but it provides a curious mind ways to peek behind the curtains, to better understand how it all works, the big picture.
PEOPLE TAKE REFUGE
In places that provide them with a different reality, at least for the moment, than what the world is forcing on them. Music of course. Sports. Nature. Yoga. Farming. Cloistered religious life. But when bombs are raining in on you, nothing counts but survival. Yes, I believe that peace on earth begins in each person’s heart. But when so many peaceful hearts have been buried in the rubble of politics, are we closer or farther to that better world, better America, better Santa Monica? OK, so politics is dirty. So is sewage but you’ve got to have it, so you strive to make it a cleaner process.
Selecting good people is our only hope, through our established system. Not a third party. Not a revolution. So yeah, I’m saying that getting good (not perfect) candidates nominated in the Democratic Party is the path out. (Do I have to actually say it, that the anti-democracy, white supremecist, facts don’t matter? GOP is a lost cause already gone over the cliff?)
WHICH BRINGS ME TO OBAMA AND MANPEARL
One you may not have heard of, but should.
CNN recently ran a documentary on B.H. Obama. And I was reminded clearly, emotionally, of how remarkable his presidency was. He accomplished so much, as the reviled first black President, with everything working against him.
He staved off a predicted great depression (can you imagine if the first black Prez let the banks fail?), saved the American auto industry, and gave us the Affordable Care Act, something that eluded every president since JFK. He cut unemployment by more than half, also homeless veterans numbers, supported marriage equality, ended the war in Iraq and began the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan (and he got Bin Laden). He secured the landmark Iran Nuclear Agreement (which Trump threw in the trash), pushed and signed the equal pay for women act – among many others. Oh yeah, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. All without a single scandal throughout his entire cabinet and staff, foe eight. The best jump shot, and by far the funniest President. And who can forget how he brought the church to its feet in Charleston by unexpectedly launching into “Amazing Grace”? Lots of credit there, because the man cannot sing.
So, add Obama to my short list of good (if far from perfect) politicians, who improved many lives and made this a better country, but how does this guy Manpearl get mentioned in the same column?
Is a longtime Santa Monican who also believes we can make things better through politics, and has put his money where his mouth is. Or, other people’s money, toward good candidates he believes in. In partnership with his wife of nearly 40 years, Jan Goodman, he has been a force in Democratic politics for at least a quarter century. When they bought a rambling home on San Vicente in 2000, it wasn’t with the intention of making it a gathering place for causes and candidates, but that happened before they even got moved in.
Grass not planted, inside unfinished, they decided on a Wednesday to have a fundraiser for a candidate Jerry’s age that their contractor recommended, leafletted the neighborhood, and were amazed (and inspired) by the turnout. That candidate was Santa Monica resident Tom Hayden. Their most recent guest was Karen Bass, now LA’s new mayor. In between, some non-politicians, “solid folk,” Jan said, like author Gore Vidal.
Their very large, gated front yard, long covered porch and the pool area, combine to accommodate large groups outside. At these events the kitchen is constantly churning out great vittles and drinks, while guests mingle, meet, discuss. Many is the time I’ve had an edifying chat there with someone I am on opposite sides with, for local politics. That’s a good and important thing, because it shows the human side of even those we strongly disagree with. Everybody wants the best for Santa Monica (though those ideas might be radically different), everyone wants to feel safe, wants the best for their kids and grandkids. That’s exactly what Jerry and Jan meant to foster with their gatherings, besides promoting candidates and causes they believe in. (Universal healthcare has always been a big one for them.)
There’s more to tell about Jerry Manpearl, and I plan to, next column, but I’m writing now because he is in deep water. Admitted two weeks ago for something minor he got pneumonia, lost the use of one lung and couldn’t breathe. The good docs got him through with a regimen that could only last two weeks. It ended yesterday but I don’t know the results. When they pull all the plugs he will hopefully be able to breathe on his own, because the down side is not pretty.
So please send some collective goodwill to this local man of goodwill. He may be, as Jan says, the star of ICU for his hand gestures, funny texts and ebullient spirits, but this is a moment he needs the cosmic vote to go his way, so we can have this guy around for quite a while longer. He is, after all, a pearl of a man.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com