Pantsuit Astronaut Nation

Sunday night, November 6, 2016

Pantsuit Astronaut Nation: A Minor Coincidence of a Possible Celebration

Some days of the year become clotted with historical associations, and to have your birthday coincide with that date can be more poignant than expected. Whether overlapping with public triumph or large-scale tragedy, it can be difficult to ignore a private calibration, and for some citizens the upcoming election day will bring its own peculiar chronological intersection. Out of curiosity the other day, I did a quick search for those born on November 8, and one particular name popped up: Margaret Rhea Seddon will be celebrating her 69th birthday on Election Day, 2016. I suppose she is not a household name, but that is the unfortunate nature of a society obsessed with sports “heroes” rather than those whose commitment to knowledge and service require more risk, coordination, and mental and physical stamina than most of us are willing to undertake. Dr. Seddon, in point of fact, is not only a physician, but served as an astronaut for several years.

I have never met Dr. Seddon and I have no idea of how she intends to vote, but her knowledge of the medical field as well as hands-on experience in scientific exploration and outer space adventure would have been very welcome at some point in the past three months. Indeed, her absence from the conversation is emblematic of the crisis in contemporary politics in the United States.

It is not only Dr. Seddon’s suggestions for how to improve Obamacare that I would have liked to have heard at the one of the debates, but also her perspective on how to address the medical needs of an aging baby boomer population. I would also like to have heard her pose a question to both Clinton and Trump about their plans for astronomical research and space travel, as well as their environmental plans.

Perhaps I make too much of this coincidence of a birthday and the terminal date of a national election. Maybe I’m a hopeless feminist sympathizer, and perhaps it will make no difference to the first woman astronaut to work in orbit under the next president to know that her commander-in-chief is a woman, too. As I vote, however, on Tuesday morning, I want to affirm the possibility of that shared bond.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seddon: fellow citizen in the distance; fellow voter waiting in anxious expectation. As I said above, I have no idea of how you might vote, but it is a vote that I would respect because I know it would be a thoughtful decision on your part.

In the odd chance that you might have a literary friend who is trying to figure out a present for you on your birthday, then I may recommend the poet-scientist Miroslav Holub?