It snowed and snowed. And then it snowed some more.
Even though I don’t drive, I have never liked snow. It is so disruptive. To a regimented person like myself, nothing is as upsetting as disruption. I wanted to put out a contract on Punxsutawney Phil when he failed to see his shadow, dooming us to six more weeks of winter. That’s when I resolved to stop getting upset over that which I have no control.
Perhaps my advancing age helped me change. There is no longer any place I absolutely have to be. Everything can be postponed. Some things can even be canceled.
Life usually moves on in its steady way, but now it has grounded to a dead stop. Snow freezes time as easily as it freezes on the ground. Everything is on hold and it’s not such a bad thing. We often complain our lives give us no time to be with family or read a book. Snow gives us that time.
Is more snow on the way? There are already immense mounds on the corners, like giant boulders of ice. The TV weather folks almost are hysterical with their multicolored charts and newfound importance when they point to an ominous mass headed our way.
I feel a stirring of my old panic. I switch the channel or open a book and the panic subsides. The calendar is my comfort. Blow ye winds. Bring on the snow. In six weeks, it will be spring and the snow will be yesterday’s headline.
Snow shuts down our nation’s capital. Perhaps it comforts those for whom our government is the great ogre. Government is, in reality, just another of humanity’s flawed institutions, but an ogre, no more than democracy itself. It is all that separates us from anarchy.
Maybe being snowbound in Washington gives our politicians time to reflect. Most of us would be better people if we took time to reflect, especially those who are responsible for running our government. Representative democracy is the antidote to rule of the mob. Our representatives don’t always follow our lead. It’s not always a bad thing. They are supposed to lead, not rubber-stamp.
Despite the panicky news reports, it is not really snow that has shut down our government, but a gridlock that has nothing to with the weather. The threat of a Republican filibuster has become an almost-daily occurrence. The net effect of requiring 60 votes to pass anything all but guarantees nothing will be passed.
There is this quaint notion among conservatives a nation that is the world’s only superpower can still have small government. It is as if they still believe America is a Norman Rockwell painting, a one-room schoolhouse.
Palm-reader Sarah Palin quotes Jefferson as if we are still the agrarian society in which he lived. It is not only Palin, she is just the one who seems to benefit most from this yearning to turn back the clock. In fact, she is part of a political party operating on the premise we need a national government small enough to run the State of Wyoming.
They believe America is still a place where family farms predominate, only small towns have virtue and there is no need for an activist government in a time of economic hardship. It is almost as if Herbert Hoover — not FDR — had been proven right by history. In reality, there is no choice between small and big government, just between effective and ineffective government. Snowbound Washington is a symbol of gridlocked and ineffective government.
I walk along a clear path bordered by deep mounds of snow. The air is clear and cool. The blue sky gives no hint of the storm heading our way. If there were not so much blinding whiteness, I could easily imagine it is early spring.
Even snow has been politicized. The Drudge Report mocks the snow burying the East, feeding the self-delusion on the Right there is no such thing as climate change. The irony is climate change is defined by extreme weather, not the misnomer of global warming. What is it we are experiencing but extreme weather?
Self-delusion has become the Right’s answer to any crisis we face. We don’t need health-care reform because America is No. 1 in the world in health care (it is not even in the top 10). The uninsured are today’s version of the welfare queens of the past, not worthy of coverage.
A propagandist named Breitbart claims Obama deliberately caused the economic crisis so he can turn America into a socialist country. All we have to do is torture the enemy and we will triumph over world-wide terrorism. Delusions comfort us because they suggest our problems began when Obama was inaugurated. Delusions don’t require tough decisions and shared sacrifice.
Snow makes delusions difficult to believe because it forces time upon us. It is not a cure-all for those who are comfortable in their delusions. We can choose instead to fritter away our time. We can keep tuned to the incessant and overblown weather coverage of people preparing for the storm by buying bread and milk, people digging in or out and reports of what is and is not running, what is cancelled and what will be begin late.
Snow gives us time to mend our ways.