Friday, August 10, 2012

Thus Spake Susan B. Anthony

Our country has a long history of political leaders invoking God.  Even in our postmodern paradigm the majority of citizens are still theists of one sort or another, so the idea that our elected officials would invite God’s blessing on our nation at the end of a speech or appeal to his benevolence during times of national distress raises few objections.  Nor do most people object if our politicians reveal that they speak to God during times of private prayer or meditation.

We don’t mind if politicians speak to God.  We begin to worry, however, when they say God speaks back.

 Let’s be honest about it, they’re politicians. It’s not likely they’ll bump into the Almighty unless he works for a lobbyist on K Street or shows up at one of their campaign rallies.  So, if a politician announces that God is telling him or her what to do, my first reaction is “Keep that fool as far away as possible from the switch that launches our nuclear arsenal”.  Seriously, do YOU want your senator voting on bills based on a late-night vision he had with a deity after a cocktail party with apple martinis and spicy nacho dip?  Probably not.   

That’s why this video baffles me.  If we’re uncomfortable with the idea that politicians would actually listen to the voice of God and act on it, what should we think about our civic leaders having conversations with ghosts?

In the video, Nancy Pelosi once again recounts the story of how she fell into a trance during her first White House meeting as Speaker of the House with then President G. W. Bush and it wasn’t Bush that had her enraptured.  It was the ghosts of Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth.  Apparently Nancy really likes this story, since she keeps telling it over and over, usually in commencement speeches at women’s colleges (I guess women entering the workforce need to be aware of paranormal political experiences). 

In the video Nancy says, “He’s (Bush) saying something to the effect of we’re so glad to welcome you here, congratulations and I know you’ll probably have some different things to say about what is going on--which is correct. But, as he was saying this, he was fading and this other thing was happening to me."
“My chair was getting crowded in," Nancy says. "I swear this happened, never happened before, it never happened since."
"My chair was getting crowded in and I couldn’t figure out what it was, it was like this," she continues.
"And then I realized Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, you name it, they were all in that chair, they were," she says, convincingly. "More than I named and I could hear them say: 'At last we have a seat at the table.' And then they were gone.

 So, to recap, in her first meeting with the President of the United States in her capacity as the leader of the legislative branch of our federal government, Nancy is trying to pay attention to what’s going on but the president’s voice fades away as “this other thing was happening to me” and she settles into some sort of psychic trance while listening to dead feminists who are all trying to fit into the same chair.   

No reports ever surfaced that furniture levitated or coffee cups went flying across the room, so it’s safe to assume that this impromptu séance was relatively benign, although rumors persist that on occasion Nancy can turn her head in a 360 degree circle.

I’d like to believe that this is simply a quirky allegory, Pelosi’s personal metaphor about the journey of women’s rights.  The problem with this theory is that Nancy seems to really believes this stuff occurred.  In the video she says, “I swear this happened, never happened before, it never happened since."

 She’s quite animated and lively in her descriptions and I get the sense that she thinks this really happened  – that she was being chatted up by dead people during a White House meeting, that the ghost of Susan B. Anthony gave her a high-five in the West Wing.

That’s bizarre, even for Washington.  I prefer my elected representatives to limit their activities on my behalf to the land of the living and when possible, just this side of the supernatural.  After all, as a Virgo, my astrological chart says my main personality trait is rational thinking and analysis.  Who can argue with that?

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