The Snowpocalypse returned to Longmont on Wednesday. If you read social media at all, I’m sure you saw the shock and horror.
“A blizzard in March? Really?”
“Go home, Mother Nature, you’re drunk.”
“Happy spring, everybody!”
The thing is, if you’ve lived on the Front Range for longer than a couple of years, you know that this is what happens in a normal March. You’ve heard (probably ad nauseum) that “this is the snowiest month of the year.” We know what to expect, and when.
And yet, when the storm hits, it still fascinates us. Like an old sweater or Christmas decoration, we drag the jokes out of storage to be displayed for another year. Heck, I’ve told them myself. When you go from a 70-degree day to 15 inches of beautiful springlike weather literally overnight – well, as Willy Loman once said, attention must be paid.
So we let ourselves be amazed. We cast aside the other fears and demands of the world to focus on digging in and then digging out, sprinkling appropriate touches of profanity as we struggle to remove the concrete-heavy snow from our driveways and sidewalks or navigate the slushy, soon-to-be icebound roads.
Once again, we’ve survived the end of the world as we know it.
And in an election year, that should feel mighty familiar.
Granted, most of us, if given the choice between surviving a presidential campaign season and a blizzard, would probably pick the blizzard. Especially this campaign season. There seems to be a feeling, on left and right, that this is the year the Great Democratic Experiment meets its greatest test. Elect the wrong man/woman/alien from Planet Mongo, we’re told, and it’s time to flee to Australia – Canada may just not be far enough.
I’ll be honest. I share in some of that feeling myself. I’d have to be Superman not to be touched by all the fear and worry in the air—and not only did I live my cape in the dry-cleaners, I genuinely feel that some of the candidates for office are worthy of our fear and worry.
But you know something? We’ve been here before. For any given value of “here.” Maybe not with these people, maybe not with this exact set of fears, but we have survived an awful lot, in terms of potential leaders and actual ones.
We’ve seen populist leaders lead movements with the fervor of a revivalist preacher, bringing anxiety to those already in power. (Hello, William Jennings Bryan. Or, from a more authoritarian side of the spectrum, Huey Long.)
We’ve seen political parties fracture and break under the stress of the day’s issues, opening the door to a “plurality president” who might have otherwise never set foot in the White House. (Check out when a Democratic split gave us Abraham Lincoln, or a Republican one Woodrow Wilson.)
We’ve had presidents who were drunks. Presidents who were conspirators. Even presidents who took action to silence enemies, or permitted the deportation or imprisonment of entire populations. (Look up John Adams and the Alien and Sedition Acts, Andrew Jackson and the “Trail of Tears,” or FDR and the Japanese internment.)
I’m not saying we should yawn or say “oh, well,” at any of this. Some of the things that have happened are truly horrifying. Some of it has even led us to swear at different times “Never again” and justified our vigilance as voters and citizens.
But my point is that we have survived all of it. Admittedly, sometimes by the skin of our teeth. But we have carried through. And we have continued to try to create something better.
We can do it again.
Yes, be aware. Yes, fight like crazy for the vision of this country you want to see. No, don’t be blasé about what could happen if the person you’re most worried about seizes the controls.
But remember also – we can still survive. And we probably will. Especially if we look past the elections and continue our energy, awareness, and determination to build this country long after the final ballot has been counted.
We can be ready. We can be prepared.
And with enough of both, we can weather the storm.