By Kerri Romeo
Would you take a seat at a table where you knew everyone was mad?
‘No room! No room! they cried out when they saw Alice coming.
There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down.Alice In Wonderland, Chapter VII
In June 2019 the first democratic debate was held in 2 nights. Starting with 20 qualified candidates it would appear the Democratic Party allowed everyone to have a seat at the table. After all, in a democracy everyone has a chance, everyone has a choice and everyone has a voice…right? Contrariwise, the entire process felt very undemocratic and just as uninviting as March Hare and the Hatter’s Tea Party was for Alice. Just when you think the Dormouse is an innocent puppet that the Hatter and March Hare lean on, he awakens long enough to show he is very much one of them.
In our democracy there is an illusion of being welcome, like a table full of empty seats, but everyone in power gathers close together letting nobody else in. In our Wonderland, if you have the money and the connections you can show up at first, but don’t expect to stay too long. They will always have more to outlast you. And like tea-time in Victorian England, the reality TV show known as the debates was simply an entertaining distraction for the affluent.
`Have some wine,’ the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.
Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.
`I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.
`There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.Alice In Wonderland, Chapter VII
Why do politicians offer what they never intend to give? We keep moving around and around the political table. Campaign talking points and policies that are promised and forgotten until it’s time to sell themselves to win the next election. Promises made, promises “forgotten”, promises never kept.
`Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’
`Come, we shall have some fun now!’ thought Alice. `I’m glad they’ve begun asking riddles.–I believe I can guess that,’ she added aloud.Alice In Wonderland, Chapter VII
Like Alice, several candidates confidently took a seat at the table with the excitement of offering answers to our political riddles, only to find everyone talking in circles over one another and never really interested in answers. If you are confused enough you might just give up. If you get too close to the truth you will be accused of being uncivilized. If you begin questioning those in power they will yawn at your inquisition and change the subject. Or worse yet, you will face personal remarks (aka smear campaigns) far worse than Alice being told her hair needs cutting; The character assassinations that seem to have somewhat silenced the independent thinkers.
The debates may be a distant memory, but time feels irrelevant when you notice yesterday and today don’t seem very different in politics. It may be 2021, but hindsight and foresight are needed to have insight for why we are where we are today and how to stop replaying the same political agenda. Otherwise we remain stuck like the Hatter’s clock is stuck on tea-time …in other words, nothing ever changes and we never get to clean up the mess.
Those who are directly affected don’t have the luxury of what some are calling a pause in the political disaster. The poor and working classes aren’t interested in raising their pinkies at the teapot. This is no pause when you can’t afford the basic necessities of shelter, food, clean water and healthcare. There is no pause when those in control are squabbling — a calculated excuse to get nothing accomplished. There is no pause. We are still full steam ahead in an imperialist nation and people are suffering. This is the danger of polite politics.
As Elton John sang of Mad Hatters we come to realize the American dream was never what we thought. Driven by money we confuse good and evil, day and night, light and darkness, rich and poor. We don’t see one another and dismiss the lives of the poor as inconsequential. But we can be grateful when we find the people who recognize the truth.
Return to the garden with Alice in the next installment, Painted Roses.
Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.