View From The Middle
I used to feel good about our politicians here and, well, politics in general. Went to school about it; went to COLLEGE about it; studied Political Science about it; and, while journalizing around the world, thought about it as, at the least, interesting. I’m especially proud to say, at this point, that’s as far as it went, since the absurd side of politics has raised its ugly head in our own community again.
I refer, as you figured, to the peripatetic Senator Carl Kruger and his entourage and their foibles. I promise I won’t — can’t (because of a weak stomach!) — go into the situation any further. Suffice yourselves to read the dailies and learn the sleaze!
As for our local political entity, at first it became a matter of naiveté on my part. I was taken in like a lemming by the grandiose talk of what I supposed was what our country is all about. You know...democracy, the promotion of the individual, the “we’ll win or die” ploy and the “my country, right or wrong” wrongism (I knew it was wrong all along).
And the political process — that is, the electing of an individual for office — was particularly interesting to me. There was a time, a pure time, to be sure, that everyone thought things went the way of Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart and all those Frank Capra-isms that said, really, all you had to do was be good (a good guy, from childhood to adulthood), go down the straight and narrow and...and...you’ll not only get to be a senator, but you’ll get to Heaven!
Did I miss something along the way?
Oh, yeah. local politics was the subject. It started out to be pure…didn’t it? Something we thought we could be proud of. We’re talking about what has become something we now only want to whisper about. We’re speaking of the opposite of pride; the opposite of what America is supposed to be about. We’re talking about what we have now become ASHAMED of.
Let’s face it. The particular local situation doesn’t really have much to do with it anymore, does it? Senator Kruger, et al, have just become a troupe of more SYMPTOMS of a decrepit political entity that doesn’t begin or end with the Thomas Jefferson Club or the Theodore Roosevelt Club or the President Whatever Club. It’s symptomatic of the entire political process, whether to the highest office or the lowest club sweeper or dog catcher.
Those reaching the higher level would include those who came into their positions through the stupidity (or naiveté) of the public for being talked into voting for them. Or maybe they got into office through subterfuge or downright trickery. Then again maybe it was because they were at the right hand of the person who picked them, and they ran and got that cup of coffee for the higher-up, or they knew which, uh, ring to kiss.
No matter. They might have come along as that good old country bumpkin with intentions to “change the world,” but wound up in the whirlpool of machine (pick your state) politics and changed character in mid stream. Those good intentions were certainly short lived, weren’t they? All of a sudden the new politician hardly knows whom he or she is talking to. And that handshake that was such a warm touch is now too brief; too cold; too limp. It no longer means anything. Sad, isn’t it?
There was a time when politics and those associated with it meant something. Not just to me — personally — but to the “people out there” whose taxes are paying for this so-called service. When situations such as what has been going on lately arise, what does an idealist do? The “American Way” is to follow those who try to circumvent politics as usual and carve your own way through the muck.
There are a few — too few — within the local arena who, although not immune to the corruption syndrome, look like they have a chance, just a chance, of paving their own path of decency.
They know who they are. So do I. Above all, I hope they cling to their integrity and that they don’t let the disappointment imposed by others hurt them.
I won’t hold my breath.