“The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and wasteful.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Last Tuesday I took care of two important civic duties. I voted and gave blood in the same afternoon.
When someone tells me they “gave blood,” I immediately view that person in a new light. I see them as someone engaged in a noble and honorable act, someone making a selfless sacrifice for the benefit of their fellow man.
However, if you had happened to see me in the hours and minutes just before my appointment with the blood people, no such thoughts or images would have come to your mind.
I don’t really give blood so much as I grudgingly allow it to be taken from me. In fact, I only really give blood because my better half has shamed me into it by doing so herself on a regular basis. And Wendy always gives blood enthusiastically.
I, on the other hand, am more inclined toward complaining and whining and coming up with implausible excuses why I should not give blood that day (possible exposure to ebola from watching a show about monkeys on PBS; recent haircut may have dangerously weakened my immune system).
As is the case with me with regard to most medical procedures, the anticipation of the thing causes me more anxiety than the thing itself. The actual process of giving blood is really pretty banal. It consists largely of lying on a table and making small talk with a blood technician for 10 or 15 minutes while you periodically make a fist and try not to look at where your blood is going.
At the end of the process you get cookies and juice and a sticker to wear on your shirt. The biggest challenge in giving blood is not falling asleep on the table and thereby missing the cookies.
Voting, if you’re doing it right, is even less painful than giving blood. On the other hand, there are no free cookies involved. I was particularly eager to vote this year. In fact, in all my previous 35 years of voting, I’ve never felt so excited, so optimistic, so hopeful about an election.
As I sealed my ballot and dropped it into the outgoing mail, I had an idea that I think will make me rich. If it doesn’t make me rich, it will at least earn me the heartfelt thanks and eternal gratitude of virtually every thoughtful person in the country on either side of the political spectrum. Which is great, so long as it also makes me rich.
I’m working on an electronic device that will be given out to everyone who votes early in a presidential election.
If you take this device and place it near your television set, it will automatically block all political advertisements. It will also screen out all presidential “debates,” and any mention of the words “red state,” “blue state” or “Joe Anything.” As a special bonus feature – for the first 1,000 early voters only – it will also block out all infomercials and game shows (except Jeopardy), and any show that includes Whoopi Goldberg.
Think about it. If you vote early, you become exempt from having to watch or listen to any more paid political advertisements. Can there be a better incentive to vote early?
And if enough people vote early and activate their Instantaneous Political Opinion Blocker (or “i-Pob” as I plan to call it until I get sued by the Apple people), the rationale for candidates to continue airing further political ads will go away, so candidates will decide to just stop running the ads since no one will be watching them anyway. That would allow presidential candidates to spend their campaigns and their campaign money on important things like celebratory balloons and power ties.
Perhaps the money saved by not airing offensive and annoying political attack ads could even be redirected to other worthwhile causes such as hungry children, people without adequate health care, under-funded education programs and boat payments for unemployed hedge-fund managers.
Islander Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,”a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.