Okay, I admit it. I'm in the middle. There are some things I detest in the Republican idea of how to run things and there are some things I can't stand in the way the Democrats run things.
For example, as a poor boy born in Brooklyn as the big depression hit, I know the value of money.
Debt scares me. It always has. I was there. I saw my mother cry for a week when she accidentally flushed a five-dollar bill down the toilet. My father never could find a permanent job. We were always being dispossessed and moving in with my grandparents who lived in a tiny three-bedroom house in Brooklyn, which my uncles chipped in to buy for their parents.
Eleven people lived there with one bathroom. Food was cheap then, and we never went hungry. I got my working papers when I was fourteen and worked any kind of a job after school. I could give you a list, but it would run pages.
Discrimination of any kind also scares me. Been there, done that. I'm Jewish and got a snootful as a kid. I feel for minority groups who got shafted because of their skin color or gender, and I'm not against affirmative action. At some point, they will have to run with the rest from the get go.
I'm not a big fan of government bureaucrats and I can't stand government documents that are mostly badly written and unreadable. Most documents I receive from the government are boring, turgid and indecipherable. The first thing a government bureaucrat should learn is how to write in a way everybody understands.
As for the tax code, the people who wrote that should be given jail sentences. It is discriminatory and beyond comprehension to most of us but a boon to accountants. Why should anyone need an accountant or a lawyer to pay his taxes? Isn't paying them a kind of tax.
I worked my way through college. It was no big deal. I loved all those crazy part time jobs. I am viscerally offended by the fact that today's students are stuck paying huge debts incurred getting a college degree. It is a rotten idea and unfair. My first job as a copy boy paid $12.50 a week. The money lasted for about four days. But then a beer used to be a dime and I did my share for the breweries.
I hate waste, waste of money, waste of time or whatever. Thrift was a big deal when I was a kid. In school, I was encouraged to open a bank account. Saving was stressed. It was all about saving for a rainy day. Hey folks, nobody escapes a rainy day. I remember my Boy Scout motto; Be Prepared.
Looking back, I never felt envious or jealous that the other guys had more than me. I never took a dime I didn't work for. Nobody in my family did. I was mostly broke as a teenager and it was tough in my thirties and forties. I had three kids and a wife to support.
I'm all for helping the disabled and whoever in today's world is defined as disempowered, but I really feel for those kids born to teenage mothers who haven't got a clue as to what the real world is all about. I know I'm baying at the moon when I start bitching about the ills of addiction, irresponsibility and indifference. So, what else is new.
For years I've been trying to figure out why I was never personally pissed off. It's taken awhile, but I now know the answer. I believed in two things that started with "A"; America and Aspirations.
In fact, I now know that having aspirations is the key to everything, a good life, success and happiness. If you don't have aspirations life is a drag, meaningless. And if we didn't have a place like America, one would have a lot tougher time fulfilling aspirations. That's the thing about aspirations, the best part is the journey. A little luck helps along the way.
If I sound too patriotic, and to some, perhaps corny, I am. I tear up when the flag goes by. I was a soldier and proud of it. I'm not much on religious ritual, but hearing "God Bless America" makes me get all soggy inside. The pledge of allegiance still stirs me.
If anyone thinks there was no rich and poor gap way back when, they must be ignorant of history. There were plenty of 'haves' and 'have nots,' and very few in betweens. Many of my generation who never stopped aspiring found ourselves, if we were real lucky, running with the 'haves,' but remembering what it meant to be a have not. Some remained with the 'have nots'. Life is unfair, and sometimes even the swift can lose the race. So what else is new.
Maybe this quick background check is irrelevant, but I hope it gives one a sense of where I'm coming from when I talk politics. We're all somewhat unique despite all the polls that try to slot us into categories.
Now about politics. If you're in the middle you've got a problem. When I lived in Wyoming for a dozen years most of my pals were rock-ribbed Republicans, tough minded, independent, get out of my face kind of guys, ranchers, merchants, lawyers, politicians, mostly natives.
I was the transplanted New Yorker. To them New Yorkers were all socialist, bleeding heart do-gooders and automatic left-wing nuts. Believe me, they weren't hicks and they knew the world from their point of view. They were bighearted, honest, outspoken and quick to help anybody down on their luck. They razzed the crap out of me and I loved being around them.
If it was up to them all politicians would be exiled and dispatched to an island in the middle of the ocean somewhere where they couldn't do any harm. To them, the middle was the extreme left.
Now that I have left Wyoming behind to return to my native New York, my present pals are all one-note, diehard liberal Democrats. As the guy in the middle, I have the opposite of the problem I had back west. If I express something even a millimeter outside of the liberal canon, I am dubbed ignorant, fascist, a Neanderthal and out of touch with reality.
Anyone that doesn't toe the line and oversteps one inch is perceived as a right nut, and deemed as someone to be immediately exported from the enlightened precincts of Manhattan to some mountain redoubt in Bangladesh. To them, like my western buddies, I was a fish swimming in some isolated tank filled with you know what.
The irony is that they are exactly like my western pals, bighearted, honest, outspoken and quick to help anybody down on their luck. They treat me exactly as I got treated hanging with my Wyoming friends. Go figure.
I don't know if anyone will learn anything from this little essay, but I must confess that the only place I felt politically comfortable was the thirty years I spent in Washington, D.C., circa pre-Reagan assassination attempt. Politics in those days was a day job and at night the politicos would mix and mingle and checked all their animosity at the door and everyone was in the middle. From what I see from here, those days are over.
Call me dumb and dumber but I intend to stay right here in the middle. Believe me, it's the hardest spot to be in, especially during a presidential election. Worse, there is no candidate to vote for in the middle.
Warren Adler has just released his 33rd book "The Serpent's Bite." Best known for "The War of the Roses," his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the dark comedy box office hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, Warren Adler quickly became the fountainhead of Hollywood screenplay adaptations, fueling an unprecedented bidding war in a Hollywood commission for his unpublished book "Private Lies". While "The War of the Roses" garnered outstanding box office and critical success with Golden Globe, BAFTA and multiple award nominations internationally, Adler went on to sell movie and film rights for 12 books, all noted for his character driven and masterful storytelling. Produced by Linda Lavin for PBS' American Playhouse series, Adler's "The Sunset Gang" was adapted into a trilogy starring Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Jerry Stiller, garnering Doris Roberts an Emmy nomination for 'Best Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series.' "The Serpent's Bite" is now available as an e-book and hardback.