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OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Release valve

by Brenda Looper | October 26, 2022 at 4:40 a.m.
Brenda Looper


I can't pretend to understand the U.K. government. I can say, though, that its scandals seem to be more entertaining than ours (though maybe that's more because we don't live there). Some of that, especially regarding the revolving-door occupants of No. 10 Downing St., has at least a little to do with a certain furry government member.

I feel certain that, had social media been around when Socks was kicking around the White House, that feline would have at least the following of Larry the Cat, chief mouser (and fox-chaser) at the official residence and office of the British prime minister. Can you imagine what Socks might have "said" about that whole thing with Monica? Believe me, cats (and the people who channel their thoughts for social media) can be very catty.

I seem to recall a certain Head Cat who used to "write" a column in this paper who would agree.

Upon the selection of Rishi Sunak as head of the Conservative Party and the new prime minister after Liz Truss' brief tenure (let's see if Larry will allow Mr. Sunak an audience since he wasn't so keen on Truss), the unofficial @Number10Cat account tweeted: "Rishi Sunak is becoming Prime Minister. His family is loaded so caviar and lobster on the menu for me from tomorrow. ... I mean, sure he was recently rejected in an actual election and had the bright idea of subsidising people to eat indoors while an airborne virus was killing tens of thousands of people, but, you know, lobster and caviar."

I swear, I'm not the one writing those tweets, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm related to whoever is.

Humor can keep us sane at times like these. It's why so many of us find solace in accounts like Larry's, with tweets like "The King has asked me to become Prime Minister because this nonsense has gone on long enough."

Seriously, the U.K. could do worse than a cat as prime minister ... and has.

While satire takes a deft touch, especially considering how many people take it seriously (probably the same people who believe that Larry writes those tweets himself and that a dead cat actually wrote a column for us), when done well, it can defuse tensions and put things into perspective.

We tend to get hung up on things that are not the huge/clear-cut issues some believe they are. Vote fraud doesn't happen nearly as often as some think, and what tiny amount of actual fraud (not mistakes) there is is caught (I'd say probably 99.5 percent if not more) by the measures already in place. Inflation is bad, but it's bad everywhere, and the U.S. is on the low end of the spectrum. There aren't tons of abortions going on willy-nilly, and even if they were, how is that the business of anyone but the patient and the doctor?

And really, getting bent out of shape because people have endorsed those in other parties in races they're not in is just nuts. According to one high-profile critic, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski saying she'd vote for Democrat Mary Peltola for Alaska representative is an "abomination" deserving of being kicked out of the party. Whatever happened to country before party?

So before you let your blood pressure spike, sit. Grab some tea or cocoa or whatever soothes you (I'm going with cocoa, a couple of cat cookies from Trader Joe's and an adorable fur-nephew). Watch a little lighthearted TV, or read a book. If you absolutely must get on social media, stick with accounts like Larry the Cat (and I'm not just saying that because 1. he's a cat and 2. he's a "Doctor Who" fan) or the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Even a few minutes of relative peace will help you recharge. Then you can get back out there and tackle the actual issues, not the ones some people want you to focus on so you won't notice what they're doing.

By the time you read this, I'll probably be getting ready to go vote early as the next couple of weeks promise to be busier than usual. Several friends will be doing the same since they won't be in town on Election Day, or will be too busy to make time otherwise that day because of work. Others are voting absentee for health and other reasons.

Which is why the idea I've seen some kick around, of making all voting in-person on Election Day only, is just insane. In a nation as large as we are, the only way that makes sense is if we want to limit votes. But surely not, right?

We don't all work the same schedules (which is why grocery stores are open seven days a week, from early in the morning till late at night). Restricting the vote to in-person on one day would prevent otherwise-eligible people from voting (including deployed military members). Other tactics, like trying to give legislatures power to overturn results they don't like, or gerrymandering to ensure partisan advantage, don't exactly scream "free and fair election," do they?

For the people to truly rule, eligible voters must be able to have their voices heard, and not just the people who vote as you do. We can't really call ourselves a government of, by and for the people otherwise, can we?

And there goes my blood pressure. Help me, Larry.


Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.


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