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The Reflecting Pool

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Narcissus was out hunting and came upon a pool, in which he saw his reflection. This Narcissus was known as something of a looker, with a history of spurning the advances of admirers he deemed unworthy. But when he saw his dreamy mug mirrored back at him, he was smitten. But things didn’t work out so well for him. The behaviors named for this mythic gent are universally considered negative, since unhealthy obsession with self often leads to trouble. That brings us to the 2020 elections. Bouncing our images back at us is now a business, and purveyors of reflection are quite sophisticated in the art of pimping us to ourselves. Political campaigns are no exception, staffed as they are by trained marketers who know that we, the people, are likely to buy what’s repeatedly advertised to us if it promises a better feeling, a better look, a better scent or a better life. I’d venture to say that we of the progressive stripe are more concerned with embodying ideological purity than are most other citizens. Our communal passion for creating a better world is heartfelt and benign, but rooted in this shared virtue is the flaw that makes us self-destructive ninnies around election time. In 2016, it was fashionable among my ilk to turn up the nose at candidates considered the “lesser of two evils.” This was justified because “they’re all the same.” I heard proud resolutions to “leave it blank,” cast write-in votes for pets, or boycott the election altogether. I understood these sentiments, but was fearful of the outcome. I still am. After a two-year crash course on the fine points of greater evil, I’m really hoping we can accept a lesson here. The coming election is less about voicing my heart’s conviction, and more about using my small point of leverage to shove our government toward doing less harm. (Forget no harm for now…) In the unthinkable event that the Democratic nominee doesn’t reflect my most cherished aspirations, showing up to vote for Donald Trump’s opponent in 2020 will be the most strategic and powerful action I can take. Jeff Falconer lives in Sonoma Valley

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