Wednesday, November 3, 2010

La Goma

In English, "The Hangover". So it's the day after mid-term elections in the US and I kinda feel a little tired, spent, and hung-over. I’m not sure how or when, but somehow I got caught up in all of the campaigning from my laid-back and, seemingly, faraway life down here in Costa Rica. Nevertheless, in all of its insidiousness, it made its way to me.

Over the past couple of weeks, as many campaigns became increasingly nasty, I made some wall posts on my Facebook page - rants that made many people laugh while, at the same time, infuriated others, the latter of which labeled me a “US basher”. I suppose if I lived in the US and posted some of the same things, I would have simply been labeled “opinionated”, or a "jackass". But that’s the life of an expat: some people back home live vicariously through me, while others cannot for the life of them understand why I chose to leave the best country in the world to go live in a banana republic that most of them think is an island located in the Caribbean.

One of the things I like about the political system here is that Costa Rica is a direct democracy - presidential candidates are voted in by simple majority - no electoral college to negate the popular vote. Costa Rican presidential candidates don't have primaries and they aren't required to win in otherwise innocuous battlegrounds like Ohio and Iowa. It's less complicated, in a country that, for it's size and population, can make just about everything more complex than it needs to be (See rules 11. and 13., "The 20 Tico Rules of Pura Vida"). Be that as it may... I can't vote here.

I am a registered US Democrat (Well, I am from Chicago!) but I am a swing voter. I voted for Reagan twice – in my opinion, the greatest president of my lifetime – and have voted for other non-Democrats many times. So I don’t hold any party loyalty, really. I had to check a box, and I come from a long line of Daley Democrats, so I succumbed to peer pressure. Sue me. Wait! No! Don't!

After yesterday’s election, it is clear that the American majority have rebuked the Dems, President Obama and his policies. Good! The system works (though in a quirky, high school kinda way)! But my hangover makes me feel uneasy, uncertain, tense, excitable and anxious. The one thing I kept hearing voters from all sides saying was that they were tired of politicians pointing fingers at each other in stead of providing solutions. The solutions they talked about? Lower taxes, more jobs, less crime, reduced deficit, inexpensive health care, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And so it happened the other day that I found myself listening to The Disposable Heroe’s of Hiphoprisy’s Hypocrisy Is the Greatest Luxury, released in 1992 – as it would turn out, the last year of George H. W. Bush’s (R) presidency. The group was an early 90’s hip-hop band and the song topics on the CD are about the US recession, bank bailouts, the first war in Iraq, terrorism, racism, the cost of living, the cost of healthcare, poor educational systems, power-hungry blowhard politicians, enormous oil company profits and the destruction of the environment at their hands.

Sound familiar?

It’s been 18 years! 18 years and Michael Franti’s song lyrics are still relevant! We’ve had a two-term Democratic President whose party gained control of Congress. We’ve had a two-term Republican President whose party gained control of Congress. And now we have a mid-term Democratic president whose party has lost control of The House of Representatives and narrowly clings to a majority in the Senate. Finger point all you want. “The more things change the more they stay the same”. Or maybe it’s, “Our ignorance of history makes us vilify our own time”.

That’s why I'm hung-over. May God bless America.


  1. Ben Bernanke's "controlled devaluation" of the US $ will result in the US becoming any so-called "banana republic" of your choice, or Greece, or Iceland. At least you can grow food in Costa Rica. We have winter.

  2. we have to agree to one ground rule when i come down to visit -- no political discussions at all. otherwise, all else is fair game. how does late january sound?

  3. Done! Perfect time of year! Guaranteed sunshine! Sun's hot, water's warm and the beer is cold! Pura vida! Nail down some dates and I'll help you with plans. Looking forward to it - if it's not a threat like last year. C'mon, you need a vacation!

  4. "Lower taxes, more jobs, less crime, reduced deficit, inexpensive health care, and an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." Extremely laudable goals. Now its the GOP's turn to figure out how to do it. And if they don't, well 2012 will see another turnover. Why is it we insist on instant fixes for problems that took eight years to create? Must be national short term memory loss.

  5. well, then we have a deal and i have a vacation!

    it has been another wild and challenging year -- the one thing i have never been saddled with or by is an uneventful life. overall life is better than good.

    i've probably spent too much time photographing and not enough time sleeping, but you won't hear me complaining.

    some cool stuff coming up into next year -- i have a few of my works in 2 separate shows on the schedule for 2011 (2 photo/poetry fractals in a show in march and 2 photographs in a show in october).

    my e-mail btw is dadanation at gmail.

    you should seriously consider serializing this blog mike. your writing matches the stories -- alive, visceral, present, engaging, etc. i'm not joking -- i have had a blast re-reading the entire canon.

    anyway, we will make this january 2011 thing happen, for certain. you have my word on that.

  6. Great post, love the opening paragraph about the goma and the sarcasm throughout. Good way to close as well!