Can Mr. Rogers Please Be President?

Alan Asnen
Dec 12, 2019 · 6 min read

If not, can I please go home?

A few days ago, I began writing a draft tentatively entitled “Don’t Be Disheartened” intended to encourage people…well, not to be disheartened about the current state of things.

Now, I’m not so certain.

At no time have I felt more strongly the historical reverberations of 1972, the déjà vu of those moments ringing back, as history always does. So it always has been, so it always must be.

And what were those times like? In one word: chaos. Chaos borne from division over feelings about the war in Vietnam. Feelings over the struggle for civil rights. Feelings over the movement towards gender freedoms.

The result: a second term for Richard Nixon and the lengthy investigation into his corruption, then his resignation. Then, decades of structural division in this nation.

Only one person stood between us and the chaos, truly. George S. McGovern. Of course, McGovern’s campaign for President in 1972 was at the heart of Nixon’s impeachment investigation. Which brought Nixon down, finally, and ruptured the nation fully. The whiplash instead of the saving grace. So it always has been, so it always shall be.

I watched (as I have been watching, sometimes in tears) the recent hearings. I saw some representatives, while carefully reading from their own written statements suddenly turn their gaze to other written statements and alter their own, clearly reading statements prepared for them by someone else as an addendum to their own, statements that were later repeated in some fashion by other partisans on their side.

It was sad and maddening. It was theater and it was threatening.

Nothing like it happened in the 70s. Or the 90s.

While the Democrats build their case around a man, essentially, just as corrupt as the man they want to dispossess.

The Democrats do not have a McGovern. I wonder what would happen if they did.

Helen Cassidy Page recently published an article about being optimistic no matter what.

I prefer to be positive about things, no matter what. I try. I really do.

This time of year, admittedly, I have my difficulties, even at the best of times. It’s been a long while since I’ve seen the best of times. I mean, since we’ve seen the best of times. Maybe it’s the absence of sunlight. People suggest that. I smile and nod a lot when they do. Then I chant. I have a routine.

my buddha

It doesn’t help much. Beyond the state of…things, I have my personal reasons.

Jenny Justice keeps saying a good dose of Mr. Rogers and Koko the Gorilla might help.

I couldn’t agree more. That’s very 70s thinking and it’s probably true. A yearning that many of us feel. For something that simply isn’t here any longer. Mr. Rogers was the flowering of a dream, essentially.

It got me thinking. Maybe Jim Jordan could be strapped to a chair like young Alex in A Clockwork Orange

But today it’s more nostalgia than reality. Just like Joe Biden isn’t even a hologram of McGovern. It has disappeared and something hasn’t taken its place yet.

Why not?

Well, let’s kick Nixon around a bit. Why not? He didn’t like it and he’s not around to whine about it any longer. He ended the draft. He lowered the voting age to 18. He created the Environmental Protection Agency. He “ended” the war in Vietnam, finally.

Photo by Constant Loubier on Unsplash

And somehow, the upshot of everything he and his minions did, in addition, everything he allowed for, created a generation of selfishness, self-consciousness, self-awareness, and “me-firstness” that this country had never known. Gone the sense of volunteerism. Gone the sense of “Christian” values that so many treasured, now replaced with the phony materialism of “born again” Fundamentalism, among many other things, which ultimately morphed, quickly, into the mantra of “greed is good.”

Carter tried to put the brakes on it. He couldn’t. Reagan pulled out the stops. Bush called it “voodoo economics,” then gave in to it. Clinton “saw the light” and became the first true Republicrat.

We were doomed.

Now, the whirlwind.

Donald Trump is a good politician…for an autocrat. For an autocracy. He has no understanding of how to proceed in a democracy, how one functions within the confines of a republic. (Reminder: “republic” is the body of law; “democracy” the system by which it is ruled; i.e., majority vote, hopefully…)

We have no politician equal in measure to fight him on a democratic platform. No one of the stature, say, of a Franklin D. Roosevelt. Someone who can “feel” a crowd and respond to them appropriately. We have liberal and leftist automatons. Some genuine. Some self-serving. One or two, Lord help us, in the service of others. So it has always been, so it shall always be.

Physicists tell us that when strong rival forces meet on the surface of the earth storms appear. It is true. I’ve seen it myself. Great tornadoes that destroy property, kill animals and people by the dozens. Hurricanes that cover not only states but entire regions of nations, even entire continents. Floods that inundate tens of thousands of homes, devastating lives for years, killing many.

Be optimistic. That’s what Helen advised.

Think good thoughts and try your best to get Mr. Rogers and Koko the Gorilla back into your hearts. That’s what Jenny is thinking.

Do not be disheartened. That’s what was on my mind for days…

Remember what the Boy Scouts always said, though.

Oh, right, the Boy Scouts…

I guess they aren’t worth shit anymore, either…

Well, what did they say? Oh, “Be Prepared…” Like, “hide in your tents”?

No, Moe. Get busy. Earn your badges. You know, those stinkin’ badges. Get out there and do your stinkin’ best.

That’s what you have to do. Rub two friggin’ sticks together. And for Christmas’ sake, do not cut down any trees in order to do it, huh? I’m speaking metaphorically. You want optimism? Get out of bed. Do something positive! Drag your kids out there with you and start a revolution.

That’s what Emma Goldman would have done if she hadn’t been…whatever.

You want MR. ROGERS??? WE ALL DO!!!


You got knees? Get up off those knees! Time for yelling, not watching. Yell your ass off (remember…metaphor…) and get other people off their knees (unless they’re busy...wait for them…). If they aren’t fired up, light a friggin’ match. Not a metaphor (but read the fire codes first, please…). All kinds of stuff you can do to get a march going, get a group organized and get action started.

Not on Facebook. In the DAMN STREETS!!!

Not hating or destroying or stopping but doing. Started doing what?

Whatever needs doing. DO IT!

Bring a gorilla if you have to. But don’t forget the license, please. A broom and a scoop would be nice, too.

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else…

Alan Asnen

Written by

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of many things straightforward and strange. Some of them appear here. “Women zai shuo ba” as the Mandarin say. Born 2016.

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

Alan Asnen

Written by

Possessor of Paul Newman eyes. Author of many things straightforward and strange. Some of them appear here. “Women zai shuo ba” as the Mandarin say. Born 2016.

The Partnered Pen

MPP friends writing about life, love, and everything else in between together.

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