In every presidential election, candidates tells us in no uncertain terms why we should vote for them and, as a rule, if not always, their claims tend to be over the top and out of the reach of any president to bring to fruition.
And this may turn out for the better, since many ideas and programs that are proposed seem to assume that there is no Congress or judicial system that will have a say in the matter. And many of these proposals seem, to the average citizen not on the far left or far right, to be extreme.
The common person hopes whoever gets elected will do everything possible to preserve certain daily decencies and pleasures that have little, if anything, to do with ideology or alleged ultimate values.
When I get to this point in my thinking about what I would want for my country, it occurs to me that my simple street itself, as it has evolved over the past few decades, can serve as a model for the America that I want to see nurtured and preserved. These streets can be found just about anywhere in America, if you look closely.
I recently saw some of these wonderfully ordinary streets in Independence, Kan., population 10,001, where I attended a William Inge Theater Festival – remember “Picnic”? There were tall trees, not much traffic, well-tended gardens and lilac bushes in bloom.
So let me tell you about my postage stamp corner of Erie County as I see it from the corner, where I tend to sit on a small deck, as if it were the crow’s nest of a schooner, and observe the American landscape and where I tend a small garden.
The street on which I live – I shouldn’t call it “my” street –represents a broad spectrum of American demography and national interests: African-American; Burmese-American; Chinese American; Iranian-American; and people who consider themselves American-Americans.
The children of these Americans scoot by my house in small bicycle gangs and seem to be aware only of being together and in motion.
They gather as a group at the ice cream truck when it makes its rounds. No abstraction – ethnicity, gender, height, race, religion – seems to divide them.
There are a number of flags on this street: Old Glory, gay pride, New York Yankees and some Native American dream-catchers.
There are no signs so far for “Bernie,” “Hillary” or “Trump.” When they do appear, I hope they won’t divide us in the celebration of our street and what it stands for: domestic tranquility, our constitutional right.
When friends visit me, they often say that this street is especially quiet and calm. Not too long ago, a visitor from the Middle East told me how comforting it was to stay in a house where one didn’t hear explosions and warning sirens. This person later was slightly wounded when a bus was attacked during a visit to a sacred site in her homeland.
At the moment, a dove is nesting in a flower box under the eave of my garage, where I have a table on which I keep garden tools. I’m not affluent enough to have a potting shed, but the picnic table will do. I removed the tools a few days ago so that the dove, disturbed by my presence, won’t flutter away every time I reach for a trowel.
I hope whoever is elected will respect the quality of American life on this street.