Waiting to check out at a local auto parts store earlier this month, I heard another customer say that he’d just put together his will, in which he joked there was a clause, that any of his beneficiaries could vote for him in future elections, as long as they didn’t vote for a Democrat.

The staffer, to his credit, gave a neutral smile and didn’t respond, while I listened disbelieving.

The man’s appearance didn’t speak of wealth; just the opposite. And I just had to wonder at the discrepancy, in miniature, of the larger irony existing in this scene — of a seemingly-poor man speaking ill of a political party that is far more in his corner than the one he is supporting.

It reminds me of something a political writer once wrote about the situation then (and still exists now) in the Middle East: “What incredible knots, the devil has tied them with fingers of steel.”

Here was a needful man, who will benefit from the programs the Biden administration is putting forward, and will accrue to his ultimate good. Yet he was championing the opponents of that more equitable distribution on his behalf — for a political party determined to ensure that its supermajority in wealth continues without change well into the future, whatever the consequences: In accelerated climate change, in continuing inequity for the many and cruelty toward the least among us.

What irony there is in all of this, what ill contrivance has sketched it out as our reality.

Paul Baribault, Lewiston

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