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Emails to my Therapist

Putting Ranting Aside…

Dear  Nicholas, I feel morally obligated to say in a calm and reasonable manner how I am going to vote and why. If I can un-muddle and focus on putting ranting aside.

I think a lot of us are pretty worn down by political friction.

The image that comes to my mind is the paradoxical one of a burning river. Remember when oil slicks caught fire on the Cuyahoga in Ohio? I feel as if for the last four years a flaming river has been running through us.

I’m resolved once again to stick with fact-gathering, deciding, voting and campaigning.

Not easy. Lengthy outraged conversations are so much easier, though they do little but stoke more anger. Still, I do need to take some kind of stand: I don’t want to look at myself as someone who didn’t speak up.


First, I want a new president. Here are a few of the reasons, all matters that are well-documented, not simply my opinions.  The current administration has:

*Removed more than 90 environment-protecting regulations

*Increased the number of immigrants locked in detention by more than 40% as of last September, separating small children from their parents

*Blown up the federal deficit from 585 billion to almost a trillion

*Publicly insulted women– saying of a Republican opponent “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?– admitted to grabbing and groping, and been accused by more than fifty women of unwanted aggressive sexual advances, including a rape.

*Produced a tax cut that gave the wealthiest 20% a post-tax income increase averaging 2.9% on average, compared to 1.6% for people with middle incomes.

Where’s The Faith?

All of these conflict with the tenets of every major religion, certainly of Christianity, the one I know best.

Now I’m no socialist. As a self-employed writer, I’ve run a small business for many years, which requires the eye-opening act of writing a check for taxes, not having them deducted from a salary. My self-employed mother used to say: if everybody had to write the check, there would be a tax revolt.

I don’t love paying taxes. And I want work and effort and accomplishment rewarded– in a way a bank can understand. But I also want a system of government that gives everybody a fair chance at an excellent education, that ensures that nobody dies because they couldn’t afford a doctor, that doesn’t tilt unfairly toward the already-privileged. I think it’s possible to have both.

The accident of birth into poverty or privilege shouldn’t permanently shape a person’s life; it shouldn’t be necessary to have an exceptionally good brain or outstanding talent to rise out of poverty.

Late Night in the Hospital Halls

I want a minimum wage that allows people who work full-time to be able to afford somewhere to live–without having to take three jobs. Spending time in hospitals with ailing loved ones, I’ve noticed this: the medical staff people look reasonably healthy and awake, no matter the hour; the people pushing the trash wagons through the halls late at night look worse than most patients. They look like the walking dead, which makes me think that this is their second or third shift of the day. This should not be necessary.all's forgiven, blood pressure

No More Noahs

I want our familiar life on Earth to go on: with breathable air, tolerable temperatures, and no need to board an ark.

So, who am I voting for? Well, at this moment I’m for the hundredth time torn.

Between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden.

Who? Who? Who?

For a couple of days I was certain I’d choose Warren. I think she can move us in the direction of more opportunity for everybody–and better environmental protection.  She’s a change from the status quo, which much of the population seems to want. She’s both impassioned and reasonable. She’s a straight-talker who explains her stances using facts, and not it’s-going-to-be-beautiful generalities.  I think she’d be a good at the job and I’d like to see a woman president for a change.

Then… last night a friend said: if you add up the votes for all the candidates so far, there are more people supporting middle-of-the-roaders than the ones favoring greater change. A more centrist candidate is far more likely to win.

And another friend said Biden will surely choose a woman for a vice presidential candidate and that may be the surest path to a woman president.

And then Biden swept the South Carolina primary.

And I like Joe Biden, his warmth and optimism. To me, he seems a thoroughly decent man. And he leans in the direction of greater equality of opportunity and will do all he can to keep the planet live-able.

Right now, I’m likely to pull the lever for Biden. However there are hours still to go before my Super Tuesday vote.

But Why Would Anybody…?

Why anyone is willing to take the job is beyond me. I think I’d rather be homeless than president; I’m not willing to feel responsible for the lives of soldiers, for example. I do know I might change my mind pretty quickly after one night on the street.

And, Putting Ranting Aside, What About You?

Not that you would indulge in ranting, of course. But I’d like to know: who are you voting for and what are your reasons?

Your calmly obsessive friend,





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  • Roy Skinner
    March 2, 2020 at 2:33 pm Reply

    Peggy, I so relate to what you wrote in your blog today. I have never been an employer, but I can appreciate what you said. I have however, had the displeasure of being a State of Florida employee under both Bush, and Scott. That was nightmarish.
    I like the way you calmly stated your thoughts. Hang in there. At least you can afford a therapist.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 2, 2020 at 4:10 pm Reply

      Thanks, Roy. Sorry about those nightmare administrations. Most of my therapy these days is what I write here. Nicholas lives elsewhere now and I see him once or twice a year, when he comes back to town. But that’s a luxury too–one that helps me a lot.

  • Linda
    March 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm Reply

    Good post. I have only one criteria. Who ever I think can beat Trump. Simple as that. Any of current Dems have platforms I can live with. Even if I don’t love them all. I will know my choice when I get behind the curtain tomorrow.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 2, 2020 at 4:07 pm Reply

      Lots of decisions may get made behind the curtain tomorrow, I suspect, Linda. It’s a tough call.

    • Henry E Scott
      March 2, 2020 at 4:32 pm Reply

      very well said Peggy! I have been struggling to make a choice as well and your argument for Biden over Warren (my favorite candidate) is compelling

      • Peggy Payne
        March 2, 2020 at 4:46 pm Reply

        Thanks, Hank! I wish you’d been here this weekend. Old Raleigh Times-ers gathered for dinner with Nick Peters. He reminded me about your car in Hell’s Kitchen.

  • BT
    March 2, 2020 at 4:50 pm Reply

    I voted for Amy but will vote Biden next time. I think he will choose a woman to run with him.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 2, 2020 at 4:52 pm Reply

      I never felt I got to know Amy Klobuchar, BT, but was very interested in the fact that the New York Times endorsed both her and Elizabeth Warren.

  • Mary Ann Olsen
    March 2, 2020 at 5:04 pm Reply

    In synch with most of your thinking, and waiting until the last possible hour to weigh all reasonable options, unless something changes, I’m going with Warren. I started out with her and despite all the permutations through the months, I’m left thinking she would be the best leader for what we now need and could beat Trump. It’s never been this hard!

    • Peggy Payne
      March 2, 2020 at 5:24 pm Reply

      I agree, Mary Ann: she’d be terrific!

  • Robert Braxton
    March 2, 2020 at 6:26 pm Reply

    by early Tuesday will be consulting with 52-plus-Year spouse – the last thing I would do (I would not) is to do something in the Virginia voting booth to cancel her vote – two in tandem – better in my view. She has a track record considerably better than mine (e.g. I was for Hillary in 2008 – she was clear thinking – the country, she said, will elect a black candidate before … By the way, have you seen the pipe dreamers who propose Michelle Obama VP candidate!?

    • Peggy Payne
      March 2, 2020 at 6:40 pm Reply

      Bob, I think Michelle Obama would be a terrific president. She could save the world. But I understand her unwillingness. She already gave the country so much.

  • Judy Carrino
    March 2, 2020 at 8:23 pm Reply

    I left a message early this morning – don’t know where it went. I said that your post said everything I had been thinking, but you said it in a more admirable way! As you probably know, I cannot abide the current “leader”…..and I will try to do all I can to unseat him.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 2, 2020 at 9:28 pm Reply

      I’m sorry your first message got lost, Judy. I know that can be madly frustrating. Happy that we agree!

  • Kathy Roth
    March 3, 2020 at 1:58 am Reply

    I’ve been struggling with this, too. I had finally decided to vote for Klobuchar and then she dropped out last night. I liked Mayor Pete a lot too. It was refreshing to hear new voices. But now, for me, I’m in the same position as you, Peggy. I actually think Warren would be a better fighter than Biden in a campaign against Trump and I think she would be a better president than either Biden or Sanders or Bloomberg. But I am wondering why she hasn’t done better in the early states – are her politics too far left? Is it because she is a woman? Too “strident”?Whatever the reason, it doesn’t give much confidence that she can beat Trump. And my top criterion is the ability to beat Trump. And my second priority is someone who can bring the possibility of being able to work across the aisle….so Biden? I’m not thrilled with this choice – I don’t dislike him, I just hoped for someone more compelling and inspiring. Michelle, please!!! Oh well at least Biden is someone I’ve watched for a long time – he’s from my home state of Delaware – and I admire him for fighting on courageously in this ugly political climate despite yet another family tragedy, the death of his son, Beau. Ok , I need to stop. Have I made a decision? Well I still have 12 hours or so….

    • Peggy Payne
      March 3, 2020 at 3:24 am Reply

      Yes, we’re in very similar position, Kathy. And I think a lot of us continue with serious dithering tonight. I’ll be glad to vote tomorrow so I can stop. No need to dither in November.

  • Lee Grohse
    March 3, 2020 at 2:34 am Reply

    That was pretty mild and well reasoned. Not sure it qualifies as a rant. My thinking seems to have gone very much along the same lines as yours. In the perfect world, I’d like to see someone younger, female, more energizing, non-white, more visionary. But all in all, I am going for Biden. I support most of his policies and trust his judgment and I think he has the best chance to win and to help unify the country, if that can be done. I do see this election as a referendum on democracy as we have known it. I am horrified and sickened by what I have seen happen in the last few years to the administrative and judicial structures of government, to our international relationships, and to the social and moral climate of the US. Some really nasty, scary stuff that has been lurking down there has felt emboldened to slither out. I do think all of the candidates understand this and understand the stakes and I will support whoever emerges, but I am pretty sure at this point that Biden is the most likely to pull in the enthusiasm of the black vote and will be acceptable to the small but important group of moderates who voted for Trump and regret it. Not sure either Elizabeth or Bernie can appeal to those groups. Kudos to Pete and Amy who made the timely and graceful decision to withdraw and urge unification.

    • Peggy Payne
      March 3, 2020 at 3:29 am Reply

      Beautifully said, as always, and I agree, Lee, especially about the slithery stuff. I was aiming for mild and well-reasoned, just because I’m tired of vitriol and ranting has never been persuasive to me. I’d like the remaining players to pick their running-mates now– I sure don’t think any of them will pick one out of their group this time. And it could clarify their direction and their chances a bit.

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