Chipmunks and Political Perfection

Harry Drabik

Much as I’d prefer to avoid it the season pushes politics at us like Pablum at an infant’s face. I used to hope (foolish of me) the purpose of political leadership (sound and effective governance of a very large nation) would rise forward so that charm, talk points, hair, and likeability would not hog our attention (add dumb to my being foolish). Substance and details about trying to make big government be something other than a deep pocket whipping boy bores us with particulars. It is easier to elect according to style based on the infallible rule of charm or lack thereof. Imagine a political aspirant these days saying and meaning the JFK line “ask what you can do for your country.” It is not that long ago in time Kennedy said those words, ones that these days would have him in the bin with the other proponents of unpopular necessities. That’s how we do the process now and that is why at the pinnacle of political perfection we’re down to Clinton and Trump as best choices. It should be enough to scare anyone, but we’re too busy texting and sending pics to be interested in such trivia.

It’s funny, meaning curious, how upset many otherwise rational people get when I lump Hillary with Trump. I understand a human tendency to like one person more than another, but if you are seeking a surgeon how much you like them is incidental to how skilled and competent they are. On either side it is the committed, maybe they should be, who are most offended by similarity comparison. So far none has asked why I say so. The usual result is a flare of defense, an attack, a polemics on the need to end racism, or speeches on any number of loosely organized topics none of which relate to what I said. That’s OK. I don’t need a new career trying to explain to folks who don’t want to listen. Another “curious” thing is how very often I hear people say they don’t want to vote for either and feel forced to make a bad choice or none at all. As a sort of fact or reality check I asked a person from a European country struggling with its own economic and immigration concerns what they thought of our political choices. The answer was not what I expected. “Why do you want to elect a crook? One is one kind of crook and the other is another kind; both crooks.”

I wasn’t expecting the crook angle, perhaps because I’m not one of those to get especially het up over big crooks. To me a big crook scoring a ten million dollar haul is rare compared to the daily theft of small items (copying, pens, supplies, or overcharges) by millions of honest citizens. At a dollar a day it does not take long for the little thefts to far outstrip the large one. Add it up. If one in a hundred pinches a little here and there the total after 365 days makes the big crook look weak and emaciated. But in any case the flaws of others are more palatable than trying to digest our own stony ills.

Another of the curious things about politics is how many people function on the basis of revealed truth. Once enlightened by one of the demigods (opponents call them demons) the acolyte of political truth goes forward in the pure knowledge of faith. Really, it is damn weird. Once a believer gets started I can’t help picturing them in a clerical collar, imam beard, or skull cap for their ecumenical pontification. For many politics is religion. That does not even include the overtly theocratic creeds, some of which are on steroids. I don’t trust true believers in a revealed politic on any side of the body politic. I might trust and believe if their flaming tree, rock, or vision revealed itself to me; otherwise.

If you waited for the chipmunks, wait’s over. Chipmunk politics are perfect. They don’t preach or try to convert. They do. Busy critters, they scurry fast and diligently in pursuit of chipmunk future each holds to with fixed devotion. But not all work, they seem ever curious about us big things, but not in my experience in any unpleasant way. The chipmunk politic is all being and doing. It’s perfect pure chip to stop suddenly where a splash of sun lights an area for a quick look around and satisfying scratch behind the ear before popping tail up and scooting lickety split, focus rapt on the next item in the chipmunk do list. Chipmunks don’t lobby for greater or better territory. This, just as they find it, is home, so home sweet home they go about its use. In most respects they add to rather than detract from the environment. I wish I could claim as much. No chipmunk lord or specie pundit demands more chip chow be provided to make bigger chip kids, and not part of being a chipmunk requires other non-chip people (no matter how sorry they may be) to adopt stripes, adopt the chipmunk run with tail up, or learn the sacred language of the ancient most chipmunks of far ancient lore.

In my view our political beings fall short of chipmunk perfection. First and foremost ours don’t do much except point out things others should do paid for with the energies and resources of any but themselves. It is most un-chipmunk to form an alliance to force squirrels to hand over their stash of nuts or relinquish the best tree holes to the striped band. Chipmunk fairness rests on the energies and resources of each member hoeing its own row down the field of life with the help of only whatever instinct and industry will provide. Is that cruel and heartless or is it a recognition that each chip has to be its own or it is nothing? The downside of chipmunk politics is lack of thought. But when you think about it they’re not so bad as ours with thought.