Guest column Gary Michael Tartakov: Barbershop visit leads to thoughts about next election

  • In this Nov. 24, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign event at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. AP

Published: 2/17/2020 9:53:18 AM

This is the letter I could not help but write to the person I see once a month at the barber shop, who took the step of telling me honestly why they found the impeachment trial in the Senate so annoying.

You may or may not be surprised that I spent a good deal of time thinking about our talk about President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate. I don’t remember what I said exactly and I need to tell you what I believe I should have. I wasn’t surprised by what side of the discussion you were on. We had one other discussion a year or more ago when I realized that I didn’t want it to go any further, because what you were saying put you over there. Neither of those chats is going to affect the good time we have when I come in.

What caught my attention was your first sentence. It surprised me because it seemed so far from anything I would have expected. You said something about the Democrats impeaching the president because they hated him. I probably said I believed that that was part of what the Republicans had done with President Obama.

But neither of those things matter. I am more frightened of Vice President Mike Pence than I am of President Trump. I think that it is crucially important that we vote for the policies we need and we feel our country needs, not who we like or the kind of person we think they are. We need to be voting for the policies that will bring us the world we want, and against the policies that we understand will do the most damage to us and our fellow human beings.

You may be so young still and in such good health that you don’t realize that any of the diseases or accidents that are going to end your life, or put you into critical condition on the way, can bankrupt you or leave you facing pain in extreme amounts. But in the richest country on earth you face that likelihood now. And there are 15 or so other countries where that isn’t so. And the only reason that that is true is that the politics of the Republican Party are against you getting that nationally shared health care as part of your citizenship.

And then there is the climate change that will ruin the world that we know and drive starving refugees from the impoverished regions of the world into the more moderate climates and wealthier economies and disrupt all that human wisdom and technology has benefited us, all that separates the lives we have here today from those of our prehistoric ancestors. Whatever the multiple different reasons they may be running on and have sincere belief in, the Republican Party’s drive to keep every American from having the health care safety that the Canadians, French, English, Italians and Japanese have, while not being threatened with dying in poverty, is reason enough for voting democratic in any state or national election.

The Republican Party’s denial of climate change is an assault on our children and grandchildren as dangerous as nuclear warfare and absolutely inevitable.

The Republican goals at this moment are to drive us and our families into disease and bankruptcy and to destroy human civilization. That is the issue, not the style of the party’s figurehead.

Gary Michael Tartakov lives in Amherst.

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