, Newburyport, MA


October 19, 2013

The shutdown: comedy or tragedy?

Quixotic (adj.) Named after the classic literary character Don Quixote, it means to pursue ideals without any thought to practicality. — Urban Dictionary

Over the years people have suggested I run for political office; maybe this will help them understand why I just don’t have a vocation for “politician.”

If I’d successfully run for Congress as a tea party candidate, pledged to fight the ongoing increases in the national debt, that’s what I’d be doing this week. If I were in the United States Senate, I’d be standing with Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul against a budget that funds yet another giant entitlement program we can’t afford without massive borrowing.

I might have had doubts about the strategy. It would be hard to be estranged from favorite columnists like Charles Krauthammer and taxpayer leaders like Grover Norquist, who think the Cruz faction of the Republican Party is wrong to allow part of the government to shut down because they won’t give in on defunding Obamacare. One of my local political gurus calls it quixotic.

I wouldn’t want to be called “quixotic.” I’ve read Cervantes’ book, seen the movie, listened to the soundtrack, and realize that Don Quixote was nuts, wearing a shaving bowl for a helmet and tilting at windmills he imagined were giants.

And yet: I remember Don Quixote as inspirational. I’m probably not the only one here who has sung “The Impossible Dream” to ourselves as we were fighting some unbeatable foe, in my case in the political arena.

According to Wikipedia, “When it was first published, Don Quixote was usually interpreted as a comic novel. After the French Revolution it was popular in part due to its central ethic that individuals can be right while society is quite wrong. (Later) many critics came to view the work as a tragedy in which Don Quixote’s innate idealism and nobility are viewed by the world as insane, and are defeated and rendered useless by common reality.”

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