Joe's teeth

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz
Paul Ryan's big, sad eyes were mesmerizing, I'll admit, but were nothing compared with Joe Biden's teeth. They were gleaming, Clorox white. Whiter than the White Cliffs of Dover, my Canadian arctic homeland or a pile of bones in the desert. A little-noticed poll reports that three out of four dentists would vote for Joe's teeth. The fourth wants to see his floss certificate.

As the debate wore on and I occasionally drifted into political bluster-induced semi-consciousness, they grew in my mind in all their surreal whiteness like some sort of b-movie nightmare, and I couldn't tear my eyes away. Now that it's safely morning, Joe's teeth have come to symbolize this presidential campaign for me, which increasingly feels like a whole lot of chattering nothing.

I'm not picking sides here. Mitt, Joe, Paul, and Barack all seem like decent, well-meaning people, and I wish they would form a Beatles tribute band. But does anyone really think any of them can truly do much of anything they're promising, or single-handedly fix what economically ails us? Surely even the most partisan among us can't be that naïve. Which turns their deluge of words and sighs and facts and lies into little more than toxic, meaningless static.

This nation, and especially its healthcare non-system, is a Rube Goldberg device, a Gordian knot of complexity and impossibility. There is no Wizard, no knight on a white horse, no deus ex machina intervention on the horizon. With help, a president can help. A little. That's about all. The rest is up to the collective us. As an obscure politician once said, we are the change.

So which candidate is most likely to exert his diminishing influence in a way that moves the country forward? I have no idea, and am not sure it matters nearly as much as the multitude of innovations that are constantly advancing our profession in ways no politician could possibly drive. Successful organizations started transforming health care, and long-term care, back before the tenets of Obamacare were just a gleam in Mitt Romney's Massachusetts eye. And these initiatives will continue and multiply regardless of whom we elect.

A myriad of examples spring to mind. The quality initiatives so effectively championed by the American Health Care Association. The Green House Project that models one possible future of homelike environments. The many ways technology is improving care for those we serve. And the tote-bag full of more great examples I'm certain to carry home from the upcoming Leading Age conference.

No election is pretty, and sometimes, okay most times, it can feel like we're just pawns in the game. But if we can tear our eyes away from Joe's sparkling teeth and all the other ridiculous distractions, and stay focused on the challenges and opportunities right in front of us, we'll make things work, in spite of it all.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, who cobbles these pieces together from his secret lair somewhere near the scenic, wine-soaked hamlet of Walla Walla, WA. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.