This Saturday I will drive a good friend with 93 years of knowledge to our voting place, where we will cancel each other out. It’s the American way. Voting is the most American thing we do. My mother and father took great delight in canceling each other every four years without damaging their sweet relationship in the least.

I tend to spend more time in the 19th century than the 21st, so call me a dreamer, but I like to remember how Stephen Douglas characterized Abraham Lincoln prior to their great debate, “A kind, amiable, and intelligent gentleman, a good citizen and honorable opponent.” We miss you Stephen, not to mention Abe.

While I’m waxing sentimental, President Eisenhower got to reminiscing one day and gave us this charming anecdote:

“A friend of mine and I went fishing when I was a boy in Kansas, and as we sat there in the warmth of a summer afternoon, we talked about what we wanted to do with our lives. I told him I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner. My friend said he’d like to be president of the United States. Neither of us got our wish.”

President Eisenhower confided to Senator Everett Dirksen that he didn’t think anybody over the age of 70 should hold the office of president, a thing he had learned first-hand. So much for that sentiment. I know for my part, being a little north of 70 myself, I could not be counted upon to run a truck stop, much less a country of 330 million people during a pandemic. (But if I did run a truck stop, I would give those long-haul truckers free apple pie.)

While I’m thinking of President Eisenhower, Ike went on to caution us, “God help the nation when it has a president who doesn’t know as much about the military as I do.” But enough of Eisenhower, let’s get back to Lincoln, who said in a letter to his close friend Joshua Speed in 1855, “Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declaring, ‘All men are created equal.’ We now practically read it, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothing get control, it will read, ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

My hero, Mark Twain, encourages us, “I have a great strong faith in the noble future for my country. A vast majority of the people are straightforward and honest; and this late state of things is stirring them to action. If it would only keep on stirring them until it became the habit of their lives to attend to the politics of the country personally, and put only their very best into positions of trust and authority! That day will come.”

I shall close here by paraphrasing a maxim I once heard from legendary entertainer extraordinaire, Antsy McClain:

“We don’t care who you vote for or who you vote ’gainst, we don’t care what religion you is or what you ain’t, we will love you, if you will just use your turn indicator.”

McAvoy Layne is a 30-year impressionist of Mark Twain who can be reached at GhostofTwain.com.

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