I’ve finally figured out American politics and why the people involved act as badly as they so often do. It hit me while driving in the car one day; I was listening to something on NPR, that Bolshevik, mind-rotting monument to liberal schemes (just ask that Alaska woman), and was struck by new examples of acrimonious playground shenanigans going on back and forth across the congressional and senatorial aisles. And I thought: who would want to go into politics these days? I can understand going into politics in 1776, when things were exciting and there were hardly any states– there was no Kansas, and no Mississippi– but today? Who would be crazy enough?
Then I realized: American politics is like one giant and unwieldy homeowners association, rife with the sort of people who post lists telling their neighbors when they are forbidden to use the communal pool. Politics attracts the same people, the types who roam neighborhoods on Saturday morning, making lists of trash receptacle infractions and citing those whose roofs are moldy. If you are even remotely involved with a homeowners’ association, you’ll recognize the type.
And, like our elected representatives, the officers running these associations are put into office by very few people. Just like at the polls, nobody much votes, but everybody feels entitled to complain.
Another similarity is that the association officers will often be at odds with one another, and will begin to pander to the homeowners in order to get their aims accomplished. For example, the extremely conservative association president may want the bushes that surround the pool cut back or removed entirely, as he has heard that teenagers have been caught using them to conceal illicit and soul-damaging sexual activity; the more liberal, progressive vice president of the association decries such a move, taking the position that privacy is being violated and purposely held up to public and governmental scrutiny. (Why don’t the conservatives ever bleat about that aspect? They often want things both ways, don’t they?)
A week later, the homeowners are at war with one another, posting anti-bushes and pro-bushes placards on mailboxes, fences, gates, and telephone poles. Since much of that sort of activity breaks association rules, the acrimony level escalates and things get heated. For once, people are actually involved with the association, and meetings are packed.
Well, one meeting, anyway. Once people see how things play out, they lose heart– and interest. And how often has that happened in American politics? Vast segments of the American electorate didn’t even bother to vote in the last Congressional elections, and look what happened. For better or worse, a lot of people are appalled who didn’t even bother to vote.
No governing board should be ignored, because vigilance is the key to preventing abuses. Whether it’s a homeowners’ association or the United States Congress, you have an obligation to get in there and ensure that your rights and opinions are being considered, not compromised or taken away completely. If our elected officials continue to abuse the electorate, we will have no choice but to resort to playground behavior ourselves– by administering a lot of well-aimed spankings.