03MargaretIt seems fair to say that many Americans of all political persuasions believe there is something deeply and profoundly wrong with our nation’s political process, though we do not agree about exactly what the troubles are.

Among the culprits seem to be our major political parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, both of which are struggling to find their way in the 21st century. Our nation has had many parties over more than two centuries, but Democrats and Republicans have dominated our political landscape for more than a century.

That may be changing.

Democrats have traditionally been a big tent party, hoping to be all things to most people. Will Rogers described Democrats this way: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” In 2017, this has meant a lack of focus that is not appealing to or inspiring for voters the party desperately needs to have.

Republicans are focused but so internally divided that the chattering classes openly wonder whether it can survive. Writing recently for “The Washington Post,” Jennifer Rubin questioned “the moral culpability of those who lifted Trump to power and kept him there. They elevated a very dangerous man who has done and continues to do great damage to our country. Given the enormity of the Republican Party’s malfeasance, a new party may, in fact,  be required.”

Meanwhile, the fastest-growing category of voters is “unaffiliated,” which now makes up about one-third of North Carolina voters and 42 percent nationwide, according to a Gallup Poll last year. We Americans like to think of ourselves as having a maverick streak, and unaffiliated voters find outsider status appealing.

Both Democrats and Republicans will have to be more appealing if they hope to survive in their current forms.

Every marriage I know, especially long-running ones, has issues at some point. Children. Parents. Relatives, especially in-laws. Money. Job demands. Home chores and who does them. Fidelity. Diverse interests. Sex. Plain old boredom.

Here is a new one.

Prince Henrik of Denmark, the 83-year-old consort of Queen Margrethe, has announced he does not want to be interred beside his wife of 50 years and mother of their children. The Queen, now 77, will eventually lie in a Danish cathedral in a sarco- phagus created by a Danish artist. And now she will  lie alone.

Prince Henrik has reportedly been unhappy that he was never named king consort, and upon his retirement last year, he renounced his title of prince consort. He now spends much of his time in a vineyard in France, not in Denmark.

To the Danes’ credit, their very upfront royal communications chief says that the Queen has accepted her husband’s decision. “It is no secret that the prince for many years has been unhappy with his role and the title he has been awarded in the Danish monarchy,” Lene Balleby said. “This discontent has grown more and more in recent years.”

How fascinating are the elements of this story?

The balance in relationships between men and women. The balance of power in a marriage, especially a high-profile and nationally symbolic one. Two long-marrieds still figuring out their relation
ship after half a century. The upside-down basket of order when the wife has the clout and the husband is left to find his way.

This is a sad ending to a long and public marriage.

It also sounds like a whine.

When I was a very young girl, 4 or 5, our across the-street neighbors added a family room onto their home. I was fascinated by the construction workers and what they were doing, so I spent time every day watching them build.

One day, a worker came over to me and said, “Little girl, I know what happened to you. You ate a dollar bill, and it broke out on your face in pennies!” It took a moment, but I realized he was referring to my freckles, which no one had ever remarked upon before that day. I know he was trying to be funny in a kindly way, but for most of my young life I was selfconscious about my “spots.”

Fast forward to July 2017 when a very grown-up Margaret sneaked a peek at the current issue of VOGUE in the grocery store line. I was flabbergasted to stumble upon an article touting freckles’ newly found “fashionability” to the point that some women are drawing them on their faces.

Who knew?

I have been fashionable and never realized it.

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