(Presently Pondering Politics in Preference to Patronizing Pinking Shears)The other day my 7 year old son asked me a question regarding Helen Keller. He had heard her name in passing from a friend and wondered why she was of such historical significance as to warrant said friend to drop her name in conversation in lieu of, say, Yu-Gi-Oh or Voldemort. When my children pose questions to me for which I am a bit hazy on the facts, I have two response options: 1) Fabricate an intelligent sounding retort which makes me seem like mother of the year while omitting any details which could later be refuted by a person of higher intelligence… in these cases I tend to stick with basic politician-type techniques of maximum words/minimum substance (much like my writing); or 2) Google.
I quite like the second option and tend to utilize it with gravitas, unless of course I am hungry, tired, thirsty, checking Facebook, at the thrift store, haven’t had my morning coffee, belting a song in the car, or just plain lazy. In the instance of Helen Keller, I decided to go for the Google search with gusto. Now, I went to elementary school just like everyone else, therefore I already knew some very important facts about Helen Keller before even typing her name and hitting the little magnifying glass to begin my perquisition. I knew that she was deaf and blind, I knew she had a teacher named Ann Sullivan, I knew she learned to communicate when Ann Sullivan spelled words on her hand, and I vaguely remembered seeing something about pumping water at a well. However, since my son is a genius (as all children are in 2012), I was aware that my infinite insight into the significance of this luminary would not quench his thirst for knowledge, at least until he realized that she was neither a skilled Duel Card Master, nor hailed from House Slytherin.
And so I optimistically hit ENTER. To my surprise, not only did I have a teaching moment with my son, I also augmented my archival acquaintance with this honorable recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and found my new favorite historical figure. Furthermore, I now have my write-ins for this year’s candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States (please don’t lecture me on how my write-ins will take votes away from the Most-Likely-to-be-reElected human being and help cast the Least-Likely-to-be-Human being into the role of POTUS. My mind is already made up.)
Helen Keller did much more than just refute the phrase “dumb and blind”, though somehow her radical political leanings did not make an appearance in my teacher’s 5th grade lesson plan. Shocking. Her many achievements include:
1. The first deaf blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree (Radcliffe 1904)
2. Suffragist, pacifist, radical socialist, birth control supporter, and Wobblie (member of the Industrial Workers of the World).
3. Helped found the ACLU and Helen Keller International (devoted to research in vision, health, and nutrition)
4. Wrote 12 published books and countless articles, and toured the world lecturing in support of worker’s rights and people with disabilities.
5. Big in Japan.
6. Not only big in Japan, but also credited with introducing the Akita dog breed to the US from Japan.
7. Some of her biggest supporters were Alexander Graham Bell, Wilhelm Jerusalem, Charlie Chaplin, and Mark Twain… all super cool guys in general, and totally radical thinkers of their time.
Thank you Wikipedia for launching me into an intensive interweb investigation into the life and times of Helen Keller, and subsequently her good friend Mark Twain. This quest allowed me to formulate my theory that our nifty nation would benefit from electing Mark Twain as the 45th President of the United States with Helen Keller as his running mate (why not Helen Keller for president, you ask? Come on, we all know that America is not ready for a female president. Don’t be silly).
Wait, but aren’t Mark Twain and Helen Keller dead? Listen, as I understand it, the only qualifications necessary for presidential candidacy are:
1. natural-born citizen (yes, I thought it said natural-born killer at first too, and no, I don’t want to entertain any of your speculation about our current president… I’m not buying into that particular conspiracy theory at this moment)
2. 35 years old
3. permanent resident of the US for at least 14 years.
I saw nothing in Article II section I clause 5 of the US Constitution regarding having a pulse as a requirement for ruling this land.
The fact that Mark Twain had provisions in his will for his autobiography to be released 100 years after his death proves that not only was he hilarious and freaking awesome, he was also mindful of the welfare of future generations. As I see it, Mr. Twain has already written a witty and exceptionally useful solution to any of today’s most pressing matters, and Helen Keller picked up the slack on any issues that Twain did not tackle.
For example, lets grapple with the sticky business of international affairs: Just take a page from Tom Sawyer and learn how to get others to do our bidding by allowing them to believe that they are lucky enough to be honored with such a task. Its a win-win. And on the subject of today’s most pressing matter, a woman’s right to her body: I believe that, after turning in her grave upon learning that this issue is still being contested in the 21st century, Helen Keller might direct us towards her letter written to Margaret Sanger on Dec. 8, 1952 regarding the creation of Planned Parenthood, “…Now a tide of enlightenment, slow but sure, shall lift its healing waves from one end of the world to the other until every child has a chance to be well born, well fed and fairly started in life — and that is woman’s natural work as the creator of the human race. Affectionately I salute you, Margaret Sanger, as the prophet and the the woman Prometheus of humanity’s highest physical and mental welfare.” Then, Ms. Keller would most likely cry for us.
So, Mark Twain/ Helen Keller for President 2012, who’s with me?