A crash course in local politics
Posted by Euroranger on August 21, 2009
So, for the past week, I’ve been away from home, in the next state over, working on a software package for use by grass roots political campaigns. The occasion of the visit is to support and maintain the package for a candidate in a local runoff election. To that end, I’ve had all week to observe politics at a local level and I’m coming away from the experience with a different perspective on the world’s second oldest profession.
Like most Americans, I am a study in contradictions. I care about my country, I vote, and I like to discuss politics (in measured quantities and on an infrequent basis) but I have zero desire to get involved directly in the process. That is, I like to bitch about our collective problems but I can’t be bothered to devote time or energy to actually working to solve them. In my defense, my time is precious to me and I carry the impression that there isn’t squat one person can do to change the status quo. That and I’m one seriously lazy fuck.
I’d love for this to be an inspiring post about how I observed people making a difference and really doing something about something they care so much about. I really wish I could say that. Trouble is, if not outright lying, such would be, at the least, less than entirely truthful.
Oh, I observed lots of young people devote much time and energy to the campaign that purchased the software I’m here to support. They truly do believe in what they’re doing which is comforting I suppose. What is less comforting is to see them doing this in aid of electing a person who will have little chance to single-handedly effect the issues these people care deeply about.
I had the opportunity to meet an up and coming star in the state party earlier this week. Nice, charismatic personality, speaks well, seems entirely sincere. However, the background as a lawyer and the youth of this star (34 or 35…I can’t recall) made me wonder as I listened to the regurgitation of prepared comments, how did this person come to attain the status and adulation within the state party that they’re enjoying?
Hell, at 34 or 35, what has anyone done with their lives that merits that kind of fawning? Been out of school for a grand total of…what…10 years? Ten years is all it takes to become a “somebody”? What I immediately realized was that I could look from one side of the room (to the star of the hour saying all the right words) to the other side of the room (to the youthful volunteers) and I realized that the star had only so recently been one of them…the volunteers. Probably came in, stuffed envelopes, answered phones, walked around and knocked on doors…and got noticed.
Read that again: “Got noticed”. Got noticed by whom? Because, along with being a youthful early 30’s notable, where does one get the money to run a political campaign by such a young age? Where does one garner the support amongst the king makers in the party to be nominated to run and then supported by other party luminaries to make the candidacy viable and something to be seriously considered?
It was in that moment of clarity (and believe it or not, I wasn’t in the shower) that I realized that I had discovered the likely moment when the idealist sells their ideals for the chance to become “a player”. I believe every one of the volunteers I’d been seeing this week busting their ass are here because they sincerely believe in their cause. If the party is populated with such folk at the bottom , how can it be that the elected folk at the top of the ladder don’t seem to be able to enact those same ideals once they’re in a position to do so? Simple. The folk giving them money, ensuring that people in front of microphones and cameras saying nice things about the elected man or woman KEEP giving them money and keep ensuring nice things get said…as long as the elected person is voting and speechifying as the string pullers and king makers like them to.
I’m not at all pleased where that revelation leads in terms of consequences for the country and how it’s run. Nor do I have a good alternative suggestion for how to change it. Information dissemination is still controlled, relatively speaking, by a few trusted outlets. News of an alternative to the established two parties can be had…but it’s rarely good and so the new option isn’t trusted by the electorate and is ignored.
Not sure if this is my first foray into “down with the establishment” but I have to say that having witnessed even a brief glance this week at how things are done at the foundation of a party…I’m not sure I have a lot of hope for the future of the country.
…and that goes for both major parties.
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.