I watched this wonderful report on PBS by Fred de Sam Lazaro about a recently established treatment for clubfoot. It used to be that most people with the condition suffered from a lifetime of shame and disability, and only children who could afford to pay, would be operated on. But those operated on, still retained for life the stiff gait of the post-operative foot, until a very intelligent Spanish Orthopedic doctor, Ignacio Ponseti, started paying attention to the fact that the condition was not caused by an inherent deformation, but by the twisting of the fully formed baby foot out of position, usually downward and inward, that happened in the womb and persisted in the birth process.
There was nothing wrong, in other words, with the foot itself, just with the way it was positioned. He figured that the solution was to work on untwisting the foot, rather than operating on it. This involved a gentle and gradual repositioning of the bones and tendons, using a cast to keep the bones in the new place, repeated over a period ranging from a few days to a few weeks, followed by the use of a brace for a certain period until the foot had stabilized in the correct position. The inexpensive procedure came to be called the Ponseti Method, and although it has been around for decades, it began to be done in a big way in the ‘90s. Hundreds of thousands of procedures have ensured that children and adults are no longer stigmatized and can work and be productive members of society.
What does the repair of clubfoot have to do with anything in this blog aimed at the demotion of the corrupt con-man who has usurped the role of president? Bear with my analogic mind, please. What struck me about the Ponseti method was the intelligence of its gentle premise and its persistence. Is it possible that the same intelligence, gentleness and persistence can be applied to politics? The fundamental problem is that our politics is twisted out of position, usually downward and inward: in most states, fewer than half of the population votes at all.
The solution could be the intelligent and persistent daily activity of voter registration, rather than the ruthless operation of advertising and bullying every four years. The solution could be the patient encouragement of people to BE voters, not the insistence that people ‘go vote’. To accomplish this untwisting of politics, what more effective way than putting enough resources in the hands of local and state election officials to secure the registration of every citizen to vote.
And then, what better and more gentle and celebratory way to perform the voting, than making the voting day, the second Tuesday after the First Monday in November, a national holiday every two years to honor our democracy. What the hell, make the second Tuesday after the first Monday a national holiday every year, to celebrate, and thereby preserve, the democratic process itself.