Here comes the new year, but the usual preoccupations do not entice. Few of us care to look back, and the view forward? Not much different. Resolutions? Couldn’t care less. What is there to life except football and cookies? Wake us up in May.
If you managed to get to family over the holidays, lucky you. If you came home healthy, luckier still. If you just sat around wondering if you should have gone, you can now spend January cursing COVID and regretting your choices.
Babies have the right idea. They want what they want when they want it. It matters not if you are sitting in a car with a flat tire, out of their favorite formula or pushing their pram in a park.
Feed me! Screech! Change me! Screech! Hold me! Screech!
Try that trick at work and nobody is going to run to hold you, no matter how insistent you are.
At home? Screaming when you’re hungry is not likely to get you tea and a biscuit. What works for babies is not so popular in adult circles. Many of us try to prolong the techniques that were successful in our babyhood. We raise our voices, issue our demands, and generally make life unpleasant for those within earshot. Sometimes it is successful and, like babies, when we find a trick that works, we add it to our regular repertoire. These are the adults you do not look forward to seeing on social occasions. Or at any other time.
Successful adults learn how to take care of themselves. They do not expect bosses, spouses, co-workers, store clerks or receptionists to run when they screech. Those who never got over the delights of being catered to continue to ply their baby techniques. They are no longer cute. They may get results, but they don’t have a lot of friends.
Do not expect them to resolve to grow up, this year or any other. They are stuck in a behavior pattern that gets them what they want often enough that they have no intention of abandoning it. It is a step above sucking thumbs, but only a step.
This behavior is not unknown among the political class. For many people in elected office, attention is oxygen, and they will do anything to get it. To what extent have we, the voters, contributed to that behavior by giving them the attention they crave?
Rather than ignoring outlandish claims, ludicrous proposals, shocking behavior or mistreatment of colleagues and subordinates, we play all of that and more on a 24/7 news loop, giving the perpetrators the chance to elaborate on their every foible. Silly us. It’s a perpetual cycle of demand, tantrum, pout, repeat.
We have an election cycle coming up. Stay tuned for Elections 2022 and another display of adults behaving badly. Political operatives have apparently determined that clownish ads loaded with canned images are what it takes to persuade us how to vote.
Take Republican Mike Perkins, who had entered the Republican primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Democrat Jared Golden. He has recently dropped out, but take the high road? Nope. Perkins referred to the top contender in the race as “little Brucey,” despite promising he “won’t sling mud at Poliquin.” Poliquin outperformed Perkins’ fundraising efforts by a factor of almost 20.
A tough and feisty Democratic governor, Janet Mills, will be attempting to hold her seat against former Republican Governor Paul LePage. If past performance is any indication, this will not be a respectful contest over issues. And the Maine Legislature is “in cycle,” meaning all legislative seats are up in the election next November.
You can buy into the impending media storm, or you can turn off your TV and do your own research. Many Mainers have firsthand experience with the current and former governors and can draw their own conclusions without having them shaped by professional campaign operatives. Local legislative candidates are easily accessible.
Unlike voters in larger states, we can develop our own opinions about those who seek to serve our communities and our state in elected office. We do not need to rely on hired campaign staff to tell us what to think. Most candidates will respond enthusiastically to an invitation to your town.
Even in Maine it is hard for candidates to get to everyone one on one, but offer them your living room, a pot of coffee and a dozen potential constituents and they will be glad to come. That is the best way to take the measure of the men and women running for office in Maine. We’ve always been a do-it-yourself state. When it comes to elections, that is more important than ever. Happy New Year.
Jill Goldthwait worked for 25 years as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital. She has served as a Bar Harbor town councilor and as an independent state senator from Hancock County.