A day without dark chocolate is like a day without . . . well, I wouldn’t know, because why would you want to go a day without dark chocolate? If I knew that were going to happen, I wouldn’t even get out of bed. The darker the better, including dark chocolate with espresso beans or mint filling, or that kind with burnt almonds that you can get only in Canada.
It seems perfectly self-evident to me that dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate. Yet there are some otherwise rational people who would argue this point with me, possibly including you, dear reader.
Preferences for this or that kind of chocolate are probably not going to make much difference in this world. But unfortunately, many of us handle our political affiliations much the same way: We are certain that our party is “right” and cannot fathom why those other people think the way they do.
We’ll see how far I can stretch this comparison. And even if I don’t manage to make my point, I might succeed in making everyone forget about politics for a while and just start eating a bunch of chocolate, which wouldn’t be so bad on a Monday, either.
To me, having a preference for dark chocolate is just common sense. Have you noticed that you have to beware when anyone invokes the term “common sense”? It usually comes down to “My way is common sense and your way is . . . nonsense.” Both sides of the candy aisle often lay claim to common sense.
I decided years ago that dark chocolate was best and stopped eating the other kind. Why bother? I already know what I like. Same with politics to some extent. But now I have a challenge. My son Alex, who just turned 12, is questioning my choices. I can’t even put up a yard sign without having to explain it. Darn me for trying to instill critical thinking in him all these years; now he’s using it on me, his own mother.
So instead of just reaching for what I know I like, I have to stop and read labels (e.g., voter’s pamphlets and such) and explain to him why I prefer this or that political product over the other one.
The milk chocolate neighbors across the street aren’t making it any easier. Every year we’re like the Hatfields and the McCoys, invariably displaying yard signs for opposing candidates. The only time we ever had the same sign in both yards was in support of the local school levy.
We’ve joked that we could all stay home on voting day (or now, the equivalent would be losing our pens so we couldn’t mail in our ballots), and the outcome would be the same. They have different jobs than we do, drive different cars and worship in different places. Two worlds, one street. Yet our children play together. We borrow cups of sugar and feed each others’ cats. America at its best.
Will this country ever come together in the center and agree, say, on semi-sweet chocolate or maybe M&M’s? I doubt it. Right now dark and milk chocolate have such a hold on our political system that the outlying parties – let’s call them lemon drops – don’t stand a chance. A vote for a lemon drop is really a vote for that other kind of chocolate, they tell us; you’re just throwing your vote away.
But by the time my son is old enough to vote, here’s hoping that more lemon drops and even taffy and some licorice ropes become viable candidates. We could use some ideological variety in the candy dish. That sounds better to me than a fight to the death between the big two, and sometimes it feels like we’re in the middle of just that.
If we can keep our children playing together, and if we can model for them how we as voters make informed decisions, maybe there’s still hope. I may still prefer dark chocolate, but thanks to Alex, at least I am forced to explain my choice. Because if I try to tell you it’s common sense, please call me on it.Catherine Forte, one of six reader columnists whose work appears on these pages, lives in Lakewood. She still laments the closing of the live polls but wants to remind everyone to get out to their kitchen tables and vote this November. E-mail her at email@example.com.