I seldom write about politics, even though I read enough blogs to know that doing so would probably increase my number of readers tenfold.
I have my reasons for silence.
First and foremost, I loathe politics and politicians.
Second, I’m not interested in arguing about politicians or political parties, and even if I was I’m not naive enough to believe I could change your mind if you hold a different opinion.
I will give you a hint as to my view: I’m not a member of a country club, nor do I believe in giving away “free” stuff.
I do, however, have experience with the political process. I once had a job that required me to become a part-time “registered lobbyist” in the great State of Alabama. This experience formed my distaste for the body politic.
My duties occasionally required trips to “Goat Hill” to speak with the governor and various members of the Alabama legislature. It was there and then that I decided secession from the union was probably not a good idea.
The majority of my experiences were at the municipal and county level. These folks are the “grassroots” to which political pundits always refer. Without boring you with all the details, let’s just say that I traveled all over Alabama attending city council and county commission meetings.
I can’t say that I had much success as a lobbyist, but these assemblies were a writer’s gold mine, especially the county commission meetings.
County commissions met once a month, and somewhere between five and ten people were in the audience. The average constituent attended to complain about a specific issue affecting only him or her, as in “I sure wish y’all would pave my road this year. My wife’s car gets muddy every time it rains.”
Heavy stuff. Critical issues. Pressure-packed agendas.
I made multiple trips to one central Alabama county to speak with the commission on behalf of loggers, who I believed were being treated unfairly in their use of county roads.
The drill went something like this: I’d show up 30 minutes before the meeting to have my name added to the agenda. I was then allowed five minutes during the session to make my impassioned, eloquent speech, after which I’d be told that the matter would be given due consideration and would be decided at the next commission meeting.
Next month, same result. These fellows were seasoned veterans — four of the seven Commissioners had served 25 years or more. They knew odds were I’d eventually give up and go away.
But I didn’t. Mules come to me for advice.
One evening I was preceded by a young lady from the county animal shelter who made an emotional plea for additional funding. The shelter was being over-run with stray dogs, and she had struggled to stay within budget.
One of the honorable Commissioners quickly identified the real problem: too many country folk allowed their dogs to roam free, which caused an undue financial burden on the county. Something had to be done, and it had to be done immediately.
“Our county simply cannot afford to continue eulogizing these dogs.”
I smiled. Looked around. No one else was smiling.
Another Commissioner concurred. “I agree with my esteemed colleague Commissioner Smith. The cost of eulogizing these animals is destroying our budget.”
There was no further discussion and the issue was tabled until the next meeting.
I thought a lot about that exchange and grieved that I couldn’t do more to help. Too bad I wasn’t a resident of that county, or I would have volunteered my services to help solve the budget crisis. I imagine it might have gone something like this:
Beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Brownie, our dear friend and occasional companion.
As we all know, Brownie was just a mutt with humble beginnings, the product of an unknown father and an unwed mother. But in spite of these overwhelming obstacles, Brownie grew to be a respected member of the canine community.
Brownie was always cheerful — never bit a man who didn’t deserve to be bitten. He will always be remembered as a gentle tail-wagger, a dog who loved his Alpo and a good scratch behind the ears from time-to-time.
Unfortunately, Brownie was also a bit of a rambler, and this ultimately led to his untimely demise. Still, we can all take comfort in the blessed assurance that all dogs go to heaven, where “mange doth not corrupt and fleas will never abide.” Amen.
Not bad, huh? Maybe I’ve found my niche and this writing thing will work out for me after all.