The scene looked liked something out of Monday Night Raw. In one corner the outraged and enraged members of Congress. Opposite them were the angel faced executives denying any wrongdoing. It was so orchestrated and fake; something I had seen hundreds of times before. I didn’t know why it pissed me off so. Then it dawned on me.

I was raised in the “starving kids in China” era. We were required to eat what was on our plates no matter how vile. For the most part it wasn’t too bad. My mother would serve what my dad cared for and during the time we had a maid, as housekeepers were called during those times, the food was acceptable.

Beets, asparagus, eggplant, and other exotic vegetables were typically missing from our table. The only two disgusting foods my mother would insist on serving were English peas and squash. A tablespoon of Bama mayonnaise made the English peas edible but probably canceled the nutritional value. Nothing could be done to help me with squash.

Part of the problem involved a tragic case of misidentification when I was six. My mother took a mess of fresh squash from the garden and fried it with onions. It looked exactly like her fried corn, one of my favorites.

I eagerly spooned some extra on my plate and shoveled a fork full into my salivating mouth as my mother watched with a puzzled look. My first reaction was an involuntary retching. My second was to spit the offending mouthful back on my plate. My third reaction came very swiftly; a powerful sense of impending doom.

The immediate result was spanking. The more lasting outcome was a deep distrust of anything yellow and fried. In later years I figured out that the squash wasn’t as terrible as I initially concluded; the shock of not tasting corn caused much of my overreaction.

When my children were growing up I tended to be a little more lenient about what they were required to eat. The oldest and youngest were never a problem. Chad, my middle son, was different. To this day he is a picky eater.

Even though I was not too strict about dinnertime, the boys’ mother was a disciple of the clean your plate religion. And anyone worth his southern raisin’ knows that if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. So I supported her in trying to convince the children to eat all the food served them each night, if only for the millions of hungry Asians.

The only time I became angry with Chad over this nightly dinnertime battle was when he became so desperate he tried to sneak past me and disappear. The scene belonged in a Barry Levinson film.

He dropped his fork and slowly bent down to retrieve it. When Chad was resisting a meal he became slower than a DMV worker with an attitude. I went back to my paper until a movement caught my attention. He was trying to crawl past me and escape down the hall. I screamed at him to get back to the table. My outburst scared him into tears. The Boss came running and allowed him to be excused. I became angrier at being overruled, especially over enforcement of one of her rules.

What pissed me off so much about Chad’s escape attempt was his belief that I was so stupid he could succeed. And that is the connection. Politicians and the extremely rich who control their actions, have figured out what our hot buttons are. They know before we do what will get support from a voting demographic and spend millions to enhance that attitude.

They are arrogant enough to take us for granted, secure in the knowledge that we are too lazy to dig for facts. We will decide who to support based on code words; family values, creating jobs, fighting the crowd in Washington.

Even more maddening is how successful they are, over and over.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.