Someone who may not have spent enough time sitting on a folding chair at a school committee meeting once wrote that small town politics are so serious because the stakes are so low.
This is a wise-sounding saying that has no basis in the reality of school board meetings in towns of 20,000 people, only 1,500 of whom voted in the last election.
Small town politics are so serious because everyone on every town council, committee and board has every inch of their personality wrapped up in every minute of every meeting. The stakes are ruinously high. The voters stay home. The reporters struggle to pull a story out of the meeting. The members of the school committee, meanwhile, are sneaking up behind each other with daggers.
I once heard a successful candidate for the zoning board of appeals say she had “completely destroyed” her opponent.
Every reporter (if she’s been paying attention) knows that properly run government is boring as hell. Bills come in. Bills get paid. The bleachers at the softball field get a new coat of paint.
Only disaster, theft, corruption, sexual misconduct, physical violence, madness and unwise public statements make politics interesting, in small towns or anywhere else on the map.
Right now, American national politics are interesting because of all of those things, which means that the government is poorly run. If it weren’t poorly run, it would be a matter of gray-faced elected officials and unseen bureaucrats paying for new bridges in Alabama, and slowly reducing the national debt. That kind of government is as interesting as paying your bills at the end of the month, another process that’s only interesting if you’re in some kind of trouble.
Right now, American government centers on which candidate kissed a woman on the neck, and the poor people of Flint, Michigan, continue to drink poison. It’s interesting as hell, unless you’re one of the poisoned, in which case you may be too brain-damaged to concentrate on the evening news. This is a great blessing to your state rep., who can now make his speeches much, much shorter.
If you go to a professional wrestling match, you are disappointed if someone doesn’t get hit over the head with a folding chair. Others prefer to go to an auto race and hope for a fiery crash.
It’s the same thing with national politics. We’ve seen so many people get hit over the head with folding chairs that our attention cannot be held by dollars and cents, efforts to help hurricane victims or by boring old plans to build new roads. What we want is a short video of Pres. Donald Trump hitting Hillary Clinton with a folding chair. We want the fiery crash of a candidate smacking into another candidate, the screech, the twisted metal, the flaming death. Which of the two candidates is better at planning ahead? Who cares? Let’s see a knockout! Better yet, hit below the belt! We love the contorted face of pain.
If offered boring, rational, fingers-tapping-on-the-calculator government, would we even want it anymore? Could we endure a scandal-free term? When former Pres. Barack Obama failed to produce sexual/ethical/monetary scandals, we invented some for him, just to stay interested.
A robot with no genitals and a brilliant mind for global politics and economics could be elected president in the next go-round, and, even if the robot did not have the power of speech, we’d immediately start making up things he said, and insisting he was only concealing his man parts in an attempt to hide his affair with a Toyota Corolla.
Pres. Donald Trump has been in a professional wrestling ring, which explains most of his political career. The robot never watches wrestling. He knows it’s fake, and he thinks people who watch it are gullible. He’s boring, and may be an elitist.