Not very long ago, I sent direct communication to all of my local representatives, at the state and federal level. Outside of voting, another way, I thought, to engage these men would be to actually, well, engage these men in dialogue. My state representative, Frank Dermody, communicated directly with me and invited me to his office to meet. Furthermore, as my issues of concern were being debated or even mentioned in Harrisburg, Dermody’s staff emailed me. One of his aides actually saw that a Del Duca was speaking on the floor and sent me a text to ask if I knew the person. Although Frank Dermody is a politician and must attempt to garner campaign money and votes, and although he is a Democrat and thus must align himself in prescribed ways with various issues, and although he didn’t “fight for” all of my concerns…he responded to me in a kind and direct manner and this responsiveness won me over. Even well after our meeting I received communication from Dermody and his staff which were often very specific to me. Frank, for the constituent win.
My state senator, Jim Ferlo, never corresponded directly with me…though he handed me off to his chief of staff, who eventually responded. The process with Ferlo was certainly not as personalized and extensive as my experiences with Dermody. He did the absolute miminum without helping me -OR- pissing me off, which is probably a decent political move in general. But not in particular with me. Ferlo, for the constituent meh.
Then comes Keith Rothfus. I wrote an incredibly specific, comprehensive, and diplomatic letter to him regarding several concerns. About two weeks later I got his robot response. And then came the deluge of hackneyed, predictable, fear-mongering, pandering to the lowest common denominator, (psuedo)Christian conservative Mad Libs.
President Obama (past tense verb) Obamacare into our (body part that could not fit a large object but which would accept it with violent effort) without (verb ending in -ing) for our (noun). Furthermore, he practices (religion that is not associated with Christianity or Judaism or most of the far east) and has sworn allegiance to (evil historical figure) while endeavoring to destroy (country below Canada & above Mexico), all in the name of (cartoon character). Really. Oh, and (four-letter verb) the U.N.
Furthermore, he sent me an extensive survey, reportedly attempting to poll values, concerns, and wishes of his constituents. It was a scantron. No fucking room to write or explain oneself. Furthermore, 100% of the questions, if you just scratched with a wet noodle below the surface of the questions, asked essentially this: Are you a patriotic Christian who reliably votes Republican? or, Are you a Communist freedom-hating secular tree hugger who reliably votes Democrat? (He could have had the wherewithal to include a third question, one that appealed even to a Karl Rove constructed “moderate voter,” so that people who actually think and hold nuanced, contextually-dependent, flexible-until-we-have-all-the-facts opinions could feel at least a modicum of representation.) So what I did was just respond to each question as if it were in short-answer format. As soon as I sent it out, I knew the fate of my survey. Some low-level staffer, likely a well-coiffed college Republican, would open it and then immediately file it in the trash can as “unreadable” by the scantron. I was so pissed just filling the damn thing out that I wrote another (…again metered and diplomatic, but certainly direct…) message to Rothfus bemoaning the glaring biases inherent in this survey.
(a pin drops…TING!)
(a muffled cough in the distance)
(a Castro chuckles)
And then just last night I get a Rothfus communication.
Addressing my concern? No.
It was his stock newsletter describing how Dictator Obama bin Biden is yet again literally wiping his ass with the actual constitution and masturbating into the original stars and stripes sewn by Betsy Ross, making laws illegally that benefit only un-American behavior, and smoking weed from rolled up hundred dollar bills stolen from the pockets of coal miners in West Virginia while sipping illicit Muslum-made booze with Al Gore and Michael Moore. (This may not have been the precise content, but at least you got a laugh from this. Right? And I only become enraged when I read the original…so I don’t want to go back to the primary source.)
Come the fuck on, people.
But here’s the thing. All of this shit works. Regurgitated, unoriginal, pandering bullshit is all we get from all sides. And we drink it down like a cold Corona (with a lime) in mid-August. Sometimes, as illuminated above, interactions with local servants can be satisfying and bolster my confidence in our ability to make sound, rational, not-merely-selfish-thinking decisions. More often than not, however, the opposite is true. It’s either polished, minimalist, partisan glad-handing from the likes of Ferlo (…assuming that I agree with him and will vote for him…) or polished, fear-mongering, partisan finger-wagging from the likes of Rothfus (…assuming that I’m a fucking dummy, I suppose…), both of which leave me sucking down whiskey and considering a move to Canada.
Each time in my life when I’ve considered a movement into public service, be it on a school board, or as a union representative, or even local politics…I’m quickly reminded how actual service becomes money-hoarding and/or power-tripping, self-service and consciously myopic vision. I see the level of ethical compromise that people must endure in the hope that, when eventually they land in sought-after positions, ideals can be re-established. That never seems to happen, however. There’s the next position, the next campaign, the next dollar, the next chairpersonship. So I jump just as enthusiastically, though then deflated and frustrated, back out of these endeavors in which I entered with excitement, hope, and confidence.
So what’s it going to be?
Do you agree with me? (Then you’re awesome.)
Do you disagree? (Well then, you must be an constitution-hating fascist without God.)
Really, though…I’d love to get to the bottom of this and really move forward with people who want to move forward.
Are there enough people out there who are willing to take a hard, honest look in the mirror, then turn around and have real conversations about real problems with diverse populations? Are there enough people out there who can accept the possibility of being wrong, and then modify their perspective accordingly? Are there enough people out there who are able to be right, and STILL modify their perspective based upon the legitimate perspectives of others who’ve had different experiences and cultural influences? Are there enough people out there willing to grow, and accept the required growing pains?
I hope there are.
Otherwise, I might be trading in my constitutional republic for a constitutional monarchy.