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Election Day is Only 5 Days Away

November 3, 2016

“The man who, with his attacks, corrupted the Athenians more than anyone else. Although other speakers behaved decently, Cleon was the first to shout during a speech in the Assembly, use abusive language while addressing the people, and hitch up his skirts [to move about].”

– Aristotle

In the fifth century BC, the Greek city of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, planned to revolt from Athens and form a separate governmental entity with other cities on the island.

Cleon was a leader in the Assembly when Lesbos wanted its independence and he played a strong role in shaping the Athenians’ response. Cleon inherited his wealth from his father, a tradesman and merchant and was one of the first members of the Athenian Assembly who was not from Greek nobility. He was known at the time for his coarse manner and vulgarity. He cajoled, bullied and appealed to the common folk to bring his influence on the empire. He was what Aristotle called a demagogue.

A drawing of a citizen-soldier, like the Greeks used to control the population on Lesbos. (Source: Wikipedia)

A drawing of a citizen-soldier, like the Greeks used to control the population on Lesbos. (Source: Wikipedia)

Cleon was outraged at the Lesbians’ ingratitude and their desire for autonomy. He wanted Lesbians and all others in the Greek empire to know that there was no middle ground on which to stand – people would need to know that their loyalty to Athens could not waver. He whipped up the emotions in the Assembly and convinced them to punish every Mytilenaean, including those that had nothing to do with the planned rebellion. Rowers were dispatched to faithful confederates on Lesbos with the orders to kill every male and to enslave every woman and child in Mytilene.

The morning after the edict, the Assembly agreed to meet to reconsider. Cleon repeated his passionate appeal for Athens to rule with fear. There could be no mercy, even for those who had recently been important members of the federation. Even for the innocent, who by the randomness of life itself, happened to live in the same city as people who wanted to organize their own affairs. By a very small margin, the Assembly reversed its edict and decided that instead of killing every make and enslaving the women and children, they would order the execution of the Mytilenaean leaders and others who may have been involved in the plans for independence.

There was a practical problem with this revised decree, however. The boat that had been sent with the first set of orders had a full day’s head start. The only way to stop those plans would be for a second boat to catch up with the first. The Assembly offered rowers large rewards if they could overcome the first boat. They met the challenge by rowing non-stop; sleeping and resting in turns, while others were always rowing. They ate their meals of barley soaked in wine while rowing. It’s said that they reached the island at the exact moment that the original decree was about to be read. The rowers’ focused effort saved the city’s population. In the end, one thousand men were killed as punishment for their transgressions, but the women, children and men left unidentified by Athens were spared.

A Greek trireme, the type of boat rowers used to replace the first decree and save the innocent in the Mytilene.

A Greek trireme, the type of boat rowers used to replace the first decree and save the innocent in the Mytilene. (Source: Wikipedia)


Election Day is only five days away. We’re told that there’s never been two more unpopular presidential candidates. It’s a common feeling that neither of these two people can be trusted with the office. We’re told by one candidate that the other belongs in jail and that when he’s elected, it will be his priority to direct national resources towards that end. We’re told by this same candidate that since the Washington Post didn’t support him that he will order an investigation into the paper on the grounds of anti-trust. It’s a good thing for him that he has an unrelated basis for this this particular vengeful act with that newspaper, as there are 423 newspapers in the country who have endorsed his opponent and only eleven who have come out for him. At this point, we could easily imagine him making some claims against the others who have not endorsed him. Not content to disagree with the papers and media companies themselves, he also makes the effort to identify their employees and other individuals who have reported things about him that he doesn’t like. It’s a common feature of his big rallies for him point to the press section, calling all of them makes and often identifying a specific person, and then encouraging his passionate supporters to take out their anger on them. He’s suggested that his opponent could be reckoned with by those who cherish their guns and second amendment rights or that she should be protected by unarmed Secret Service agents. He’s encouraged his fans to injure those who may dissent with him and ordered his security teams to take away anybody he doesn’t like. Why even this week, he had them remove a sixty-three year-old former Marine who was actually a supporter, but had the misfortune of a personal appearance that didn’t matchup with the type of person he generally solicits; the man is black.

Any of us could go on and on about the threats and vile things he has said about “others.” From the time that he came down the fancy escalator to announce this candidacy, it’s been a wholesale project to identify the in-group and the out-group. Us versus them. Think about the long list of people Donald Trump’s mocked, personally insulted or identified as the problem or even the enemy. Perhaps you’re not on that list. The odds are very good however, that even if you aren’t, someone you know is.

Trump doesn’t believe in democracy. He will tear down every last institution and guard rail in his way to achieve his own personal objectives. He drummed on for years about the illegitimacy of Barack Obama’s terms on the conspiracy that he wasn’t born in this country. He’s even placed doubt in voters minds about the very process he’s sought the past year and a half, telling them to vote for him in November, but don’t trust it if he loses. Ever since the polls showed that more people may vote for Hillary Clinton than him, he has said that the election process is so utterly corrupt that it cannot be trusted. He cannot present evidence, because it does not exist. The only proof that he needs is his loss at the polls. Trump doesn’t believe in democracy because it’s a system that doesn’t guarantee that he will get his way, that he will “win.”

We have an important decision ahead of us. This isn’t a choice between two equally defective candidates. Clinton, as severely flawed as she may be as a candidate and as a person, does not present the danger from within that Trump presents. She may not be the president that you want. She may not inspire you or even instill your confidence. Still, Clinton will have to do for now, because she will not tear away at the country’s very fiber that has holds us together.

Election Day is only five days away. Grab an oar.


  1. Counting the hours and biting my nails.


  2. Very powerful piece. I’ll take two oars, please!


    • Row Elyse, row.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been making calls (nobody answers their phone, I therefore don’t have a clue who is answering the pollsters’ questions) and I’ll be working as a poll observer. And I gave money.

        And I send nasty emails back to Donald Trump and his family.

        More importantly, I already voted 😉


  3. OMG, still 5 more days?!! Isn’t it ever going to end?


    • It could go on another 10, 20, 30… days as long as our country learns something from this. Repeating this each election would be very dangerous.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hear hear, well said. I so want this election to be over, but I’m fearful of what may come.


    • Hello Carrie, so good to hear from you. I agree, while there will be some relief Tuesday, the troubles will carry forward. The systems are all in place for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One of your best. More oars in the water until we have reached Lesbos…


    • Hello Mat, the more oars the better. While the pollsters tell us that it is not likely anymore, a solid and unmistakable referendum on Trump with a landslide in popular vote and the electoral college would be the preferred outcome here. More oars in the water.


  6. Yikes, yikes, and thrice yikes.


  7. Well said … Through all her flaws, it comes down to “as compare to what?” … and he’s the comparison point … which makes the choice obvious.

    Congrats to your Cubs (as I know part of your heart is there).


    • Hello Frank – how about those Cubs. I would imagine Ohio saw a lot of off-color blue baseball caps the past couple weeks. I always enjoy the end of the season; it’s a break not exactly like the players need, but welcomed nonetheless.


      • I’ve seen Cubs blue around … usually from transplanted Cub fans … I don’t blame them so they’ve waited a long time! Another Hot Stove League is about to start, which means more futility in this town.


  8. Got my oar, rowing like a Madwoman. Just hoping I won’t need to get on a boat next Wednesday. Powerful piece, Mr. T

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It took me forever to get through all the propositions, but I have already sent in my ballot. I am so anxious about this election, enough so that I have actually had fitful sleep about it. I’ve voted in probably one dozen Presidential elections and I don’t ever recall being more disturbed at the potential outcome. I think our rowing had better be swift, strong, and on-going!


    • We have a thick set this year. These propositions, while good in theory, sometimes trouble me. If we had a legislature who could work together, some of these propositions wouldn’t be necessary. I don’t mind the study time and of course, hold dear the opportunity to vote. But how refreshing it would be if these people figured out some of these things on their own.

      Anyway, our votes are the key thing this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It is beyond me how someone can vote for Trump, Bruce. But there are far too many people who will, especially when any is too many. Clinton is going to win, but win what is the question. If she can pull the nation back together, if she can somehow get around the Congressional demagogues who would rather see the nation go down in flames than compromise, if she can address the income disparities that exist in our nation… she may be one of our greatest presidents. –Curt


    • Oh, anyone who can carry the country through the next four years with our dignity in place should have an esteemed position in history. 1) get her in office; 2) media figure out how to do their job without inciting undue emotions with every manipulative “news crawl” and “breaking news” announcement; 3) ignore Trump; 4) … 5)…

      It’s a long-term project


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