First, an apology. I normally write my blog on Saturday. But that wasn't possible this past Saturday, because thanks to Southwest Airlines, I was stranded in Phoenix, where I had to spend all night at the airport. They didn't offer a hotel, nor a voucher to buy dinner, absolutely nothing. The folks working the ticket counter seemed really overworked and understaffed, and they rapidly grew impatient. Me too, though I tried to be polite. Bottom line: no flights out till early in the morning, go sit in the terminal and wait. So I did. It's been years since I people-watched in an airline terminal. As the hour got later, there were only a few people walking by, but I did see a couple of totally adorable kids, ages seven and five, on their way back to Mexico with their parents, after visiting relatives in Phoenix; fortunately, my high school Spanish enabled me to communicate, because they were just so friendly. The five year old wanted to know why I was sitting there-- I told him I wanted to know the same thing. I watched the cleaning crew cleaning (they came from a wide range of countries-- Somalia, Micronesia, Mexico, Ghana, Sudan, etc). I saw a few folks who were also stranded, who were trying to get some sleep. And I hung out at the one 24-hour Starbucks, buying a caramel frappuccino at 4 AM, and using a very unreliable WiFi that arbitrarily disconnected us every few minutes just because it could. Okay fine, worse things have happened to me. (After all, I'm now officially a cancer survivor. Having cancer was much worse.) But this experience was a close second: I didn't expect to be unable to get from Phoenix to Boston for nearly 48 hours. Suffice it to say that blogging was the last thing on my mind-- getting home was.
And that brings me to Rush fans. On Facebook, I have nearly 4,000 followers. No, I am really not that popular-- but as the woman who discovered this amazing rock band and helped to launch their career, I am sort of the patron saint (saintess?) of the world-wide community of fans. Alex, Geddy, and Neil have graced me with their friendship for more than 40 years. And thanks to them, I have met Rush fans from just about every country-- and there are fans in places you might not suspect. In addition to North and South American fans, you can find lovers of Rush's music in Indonesia, Pakistan, Japan, Israel, and elsewhere. I even know people who have learned English to better appreciate the lyrics to Rush songs.
Anyway, I vented on Facebook about my plight and suddenly my page exploded with outrage, derision, annoyance, offers to flock the Southwest website and protest, etc. In an otherwise miserable situation, it was so heartening to know that the fan community cares what happens-- and not just to me. Like the members of the band, who are well-known for being philanthropists and family men, Rush fans take care of each other. In fact, in all the years I've spent in broadcasting, they are some of the most compassionate people I've encountered. They have reached out to folks with cancer, folks who are feeling alone, folks who are having a difficult time. They get together before and after concerts. They hold dinners and parties. They are like a large, noisy, sometimes contentious family. They are politically all over the map: some are righties, some are lefties, some are libertarians... but the one thing they all agree on is that Rush is the best rock band ever. And I appreciated the fact that they were there to support me online during my frustrating adventure in trying to get home.
And then I finally got to Boston, and I was thinking about what to write (part of this blog is to fulfill the requirements of a course I am taking about politics campaigns) when I came upon a news article from the always reliable McClatchy News Service: "People Don't Like Republicans or Democrats, Gallup Finds." The article restated the results of a recent Gallup Poll, which found that both major U.S. parties are now below 40% in approval ratings for the first time since Gallup began tracking perceptions of political parties in 1992-- you can read the poll and the analysis here: http://www.gallup.com/poll/181985/neither-major-party-cracks-favorability-latest-poll.aspx And it made me think of something I wrote in my very first blog post-- how we have become an "argument culture," where polarization is the rule rather than the exception. (Ironically, it's well known that while people hate "congress," they keep voting for most of the same folks over and over, since they generally believe their own local politician is okay. This too is a trend that Gallup, as well as political columnists, repeatedly noted: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/05/09/people-hate-congress-but-most-incumbents-get-re-elected-what-gives/) Thinking about this, for a moment, it made me wish more people could be like Rush fans-- able to focus on what they have in common rather than dwelling on the areas where they disagree. Yes, I know-- these days, such hopes seem like the impossible dream. But wouldn't a lot more get accomplished, in congress as well as in daily life, if "compromise" had not become such a dirty word?