DEMOCRACIES flourish when citizens meet and discuss the issues of the day, consider the candidates for office, debate the affairs of state and the world. Babies are against all this. I have friends whose informed opinion I have always sought and valued. Now they have a baby. As political advisers they are worthless. As a matter of fact, as friends they are worthless.
Here I am responsibly trying to discuss George Bush, Gary Hart, the contras, and so on. I drape myself knowledgeably on their living room couch. I study my knit fingers prefatory to emitting something incisive and analytical. I look up. I am alone.
Somewhere in the bowels of the house the baby is howling. A catastrophe having to do with formula or diapers is in progress. I sit on the couch and talk to myself.
After a time they return.
``What do you think the vice-president knew about arms-for-hostages?'' I ask, trying to get some discussion going.
``Well...'' says the husband.
``Honey, I'm almost out of strained peas,'' says the wife in a tone of voice she used to use when discussing the evils of apartheid.
``Really?'' he gasps, in the tone of voice he used to use when told of earthquakes that swallowed whole Mexican villages. He jumps to his feet.
``Can we use your car?'' he implores, dropping to his knees.
We race off into the night as if to a fire. After searching three all-night convenience stores, we find strained peas. He is relieved for a time. But by the time we get back to the house, some new problem has arisen.
That's the nature of bringing up babies. You take care of one thing and another one pops up in its place.
So I think about the contras, the Palestinians, the situation in Afghanistan, the primaries, the deficit, you-name-it - all by myself. I can't go on much longer bearing this burden. I have relied on these people. Either this kid grows up before the election or I'm going to do something I'll regret.
Like getting a puppy.
Jeff Danziger is the Monitor's cartoonist.