Hey Elderly Aunt, how should I handle all these political solicitations?

Elderly Aunt: I have taken to responding to phone solicitations from candidates and groups of both parties that I “no longer make financial decisions on the fly on the phone.” This leads to them begging for “just a pledge,” which I also reject because it requires thought and I’m getting older and cannot keep in my mind all the financial realities I deal with. They often counter with “But if you make a contribution today, it will be matched by a wealthy donor.” That’s nice, but she could give you ALL the money without the games. Furthermore, I would like to get money OUT of campaigns, and I am not sure that I should be dinking around in other state matters, like sending money to Maine or North Carolina. A solicitor today interrupted bill-paying and kept me on the line for a LONG time, arguing with me (and I agreed with his politics, too!) What do you think, Elderly Aunt?

The Elderly Aunt has a dim memory of slogging through The Pilgrim’s Progress back in her student days. The only part of it that really stuck with her, however, was the section on the Slough of Despond, of which John Bunyan says, “This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended…”

On her rare discouraged days, the Elderly Aunt thinks of American politics as today’s Slough of Despond—the whole process so broken by ignorance, greed, corruption and fear that it cannot be mended. She worries that you and she, dear reader, are condemned to scrabble around ad infinitum in the big-money-driven political muck—Super PAC’s anyone?—that was so impressively deepened by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

On many more of her days, however, the Elderly Aunt remains sanguine about the future of this country. She believes down to her painted toes that the vast majority of us—among them you, dear reader—recognize money-driven political bullshit for exactly what it is: money-driven political bullshit. She further believes that working together, one election at a time, we will extricate our country from sucking grasp of the today’s powerful iteration of the Slough of Despond.

As to the specifics of your frustrations with the current barrage of telephone political solicitations…

In truth, dear reader, the Elderly Aunt wonders why on earth you answer the phone in the first place? And if you answer by mistake, why do you not cut the call short by saying, “I don’t engage in political discussions with people I don’t know, so please take me off your list,” and then hang up? Surely, if you want to donate to the righteous political candidate/cause of your choice, you can do this without getting yourself into a lot of frustrating and fruitless conversations with strangers. 

The Elderly Aunt feels strongly that when dealing with life’s daunting and unpleasant challenges—today’s political morass, for example—she is morally obligated set her personal emotions aside in favor of thinking about what she, herself, can actually do to make the situation better. The Elderly Aunt does her best not to waste energy on bad feelings—no matter how cathartic she might find firing up blasts of outrage in the face of today’s politics! 

It is, of course, a real challenge to keeping thinking while wading hip-deep through America’s current Slough (of rampant greed, fear mongering, hate, and no-hold-barred political mendacity), but the Elderly Aunt firmly believes that every second we spend indulging in pointless outrage on the phone—or on social media—is a second we might better spend focusing on how to do our small part to drain the Slough. To her, emotional indulgence is tantamount to empowering the dark political energies afoot in our country. In other words, to giving up hope of an American future we can be proud of. 

In closing, the Elderly Aunt cites another classical reference:

Way back in 1979, the Doobie Brothers asked this question in their song, One by OneYou always have a chance to give up, so why do it now?

Why indeed?

The Elderly Aunt gently suggests to you, dear reader, that engaging in pointless phone conversations that only make you feel bad is a form of giving up. Surely you can figure out better, more productive ways to spend your time and your energy.

The Elderly Aunt offers her thoughtful responses to your questions about this wild ride we call life on every other Monday.  And as a general disclaimer—to quote the elves from The Lord of the Rings — “… advice is a dangerous gift, even given from the wise to the wise.”

Got a question for the Elderly Aunt? Ask her on Facebook or email your question to [email protected] with the subject line “Elderly Aunt question.” (Just please don’t ask detailed financial questions). 

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