Politics after death: I’m right, you’re wrong, by gawd!

As the Biden presidential inauguration approaches, I’ve been thinking about a gravely ill man who wanted to live long enough to see Trump impeached. It took some Google searching to track down Michael Garland Elliott, who passed away April 6, 2017, at age 75 in Oregon.

Mr. Elliott and the others mentioned in this article were entwined in the pernicious polarization of politics that many of us have fallen into. When you scrape away the bruised peelings, scoop out all the bitter rhetoric and get down to the very garbage at its core today, our country’s politics—at this moment in time—can unfortunately be boiled down to a simple definition: I’m right and, by gawd, you’re wrong. Some folks want to hold true to this sentiment even after they’re ashes or six feet under.

Regardless of whether you’re political inclined or could care less about politicians, Mr. Elliott’s story is intriguing. It’s a bit sad, a bit happy and a bit funny. So are the stories of the other dead whom I mention here.

According to his obituary, Mr. Elliott was once a member of a semi-pro basketball team that played exhibition games where the players dressed as women. During those games, he was called Skaggy Maggie. In everyday life, he was a sharp dresser and a Porsche enthusiast who owned a dozen of the fancy cars over the years.

But nothing touched his heart like golf, a sport he became passionate about. He had a bit of a temper. One time he was so angered by a poor shot that he threw his club into a tree. Eventually, every club in his bag ended up in the tree.

His health declined during the last decade of his life, something he gracefully accepted, and his passion turned to TV news. When he was no longer able to golf, he instead threw things at the TV.

It’s needless to elaborate on his views of Trump. After all, how many dying people have the goal of staying alive until a president is kicked out of office?

By the time of his death, Mr. Elliott’s family was gone. He had friends, however. Among them was his best friend, his ex-wife. She was with him at the end. Hers were the last words he heard, and those words were “Donald Trump has been impeached.”

“Upon hearing that,” his obit stated, “he took his final, gentle breath, his earthly work concluded.” His death occurred prior to Trump’s first impeachment, so the end-of-life message was not the truth, but this compassionate fib can easily be forgiven by the living.

Mr. Elliott, by the way, was the first to be reported but not the only person to pass away only after hearing impeachment news (although fake news) about Trump.

Corliss D. Gilchrist, 91, of Altoonja, Iowa, died May 3, 2017, after he was told the process to impeach Trump had begun. This fake news was told to Mr. Gilchrist so “he could rest in peace,” according to his obituary. He was, noted the obit, a “stoic, hardworking, and simple man who had a joyful outlook on life.”

Lest we think the prospect of Trump’s political demise is a life-extending panacea, there is the case of a Georgia man, Bill Bryant Jr., 87, who died in September 2016, two months before the presidential election. Mr. Bryant was an Army veteran, father of six, a graphic designer, organic farmer, VW bus driver, and all-around character who lived “honorably, with humor and to the fullest.” According to his obituary, Mr. Bryant didn’t want to witness the outcome of the 2016 election and he had also “determined nothing on television was worth watching anymore.”

These three cases are representative of what one can discover on Google about people who want to ensure their political views are heard from the afterlife.

Some obituaries have urged family and friends to vote against one candidate or another, as in the case of a 70-year-old chiropractor in Pittsburgh, Penn., who in his obituary asked loved ones and the public to not vote for Trump. In direct death-throe opposition, there was the 63-year-old New Jersey lady, who wanted—in lieu of flowers—for people to not vote for Trump’s opponent.

From what I can tell from their obituaries, these were all good Americans. They were interested in politics. They wanted others to vote as they did—nothing wrong with that. For the sake of moral obligation, the final views of these souls should be respected—at least to the point of our knowing we are not obligated to agree with their final thoughts or follow their final requests. And with this I stand firm…and I am right and, if you think otherwise, you are wrong, by gawd.

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