An ounce of reason A ton of turmoil

Harry Drabik

The far end of the North Shore (my uncle once described it as the place “God lost his shoes”) is having a mod-term local election to fill a vacated County Commissioner position. It’s my personal and biased view the previous official was worn down to frazzle status by fighting the losing battle over how best to spend our way to prosperity. Frankly, that war reflects poorly on the rest of you for not supporting us as well as we surely deserve. Everyone knows it takes money to live above your means, and the scanty 5,000 of us here can’t reasonably be expected to bear the burden of growing more educational facilities for fewer students, supporting a YMCA and the Arrowhead Center for the Arts (aka big empty building at the east end of the school and Y complex). Oh, and there are three Charter Schools, a Higher Education facility, and a spacious community center with curling rink. It’s completely unreasonable and unrealistic to think we can handle this on our own, so it is necessary to involve others in our upward climb to achieve higher and greater levels of success. We can’t do it alone, but too, too often you others out there let us down and frustrate noble ambitions grandly presented.

Snarky as the above is, that’s a sort of overview. Can you see why some officials might give up the ghost facing that? In calm review I’d say I’m surprised the former Commissioner didn’t run like he was on fire instead of simply stepping aside to let another have a go at reasoning out the unreasonable.

As the least populated and least developed part of the County looks to elect a representative it seems a good time to look at  tails and the dogs that wag them. In something like a District election the District will elect a local person to represent them. The question (or concern if you prefer) is where the elected official sees their role or function. Is the person a County official from a District or a District representing itself in a County? A simpler way to put it is will the person elected see their broad County responsibility first or will their base be their District first? Some very successful folk have made good use of local constituencies as a driving force, but there is always a danger, I think, of having a narrower local perspective get in the way of achieving a better balanced result. Elected officials forming the dog body and sharing the act of tail wagging gets a different result than officials who put tail wagging first and in the process somewhat forget about the dog. A dog with too many tails a wagging is interesting to be sure, but functional it will be addressing common concerns is another matter.

The common cause or body politic is vulnerable to slow division by special interests. It’s even harder to focus on a common denominator when you factor in the political reality of deception. Politics as we do it is full of ego and of people who want to be liked and be elected and reelected. Is that not an invitation to smiling evasions and cozy assurances that sound fine but lack the merit of a thought through proposition. To get elected politicians get in the habit of saying things to please people. That, if you ask me, is the pathway many a politico travels to attain the status of glib and convincing liar. They get so smooth and practiced at it they don’t even know they’re doing it anymore. Misspeaking and falsehood become the breath of their lives. Trump is right up there, of course, for saying ignorant off the cuff remarks. He’s a relatively bad liar for getting caught at it often as he does. (There are at least two cutting edges on that sword, aren’t there?) A much better and more practiced speaker of falsehood was Reagan. Acting game him an edge in speaking “lines” that didn’t have much behind them but a script. At the worst of times Reagan managed to come off as a nice guy, a skill masterfully employed by our last President. Obama was remarkably good and believable at spinning nice sounding nice-guy things that either didn’t mean much or were effectively cancelled by his concluding remarks.

The important question for a citizen isn’t how convincing they find a candidate but what that person really means. If you hear the words “freedom, liberty, and free speech” connected to proclaiming that will be achieved through “responsible speech and tougher enforcement on hate speech” the intent is to make censorship and blasphemy laws sound not so bad. Well actually the intent is to make an otherwise bad thing sound reasonable and good. A narrow intent can be phrased in a way supportive of a broader good, but no matter the sounds or reassurances made the bottom line is the end result. Does the dog wag the tail or is the tail trying to take over rule of the dog?

Whether in local, state, or national politics we will often try to reason things out. We want to be reasonable and understanding. Someone wants respect for their views. That’s not so bad, is it? Surely we can accommodate. We can do that much. If those views, however, are fixed and never changing based on a divine ultimatum how will reason and understanding help us? How do you reason with the unreasonable? More importantly, why get tangled up trying to do so? Don’t we know a waste of time and energy when we see one? Unreason and un-compromise puts the burden of accommodating and adjusting on everyone. The dog has to surrender to the tail. We at times get caught up trying to make sense of the senseless. But if you want to find the ultimate in crazy pursuits try to reason with the unreasonable. There is no basis for reasoning with views that are unreasonable in content or in nature.