Tuesday, November 6, 2007

SouthCoast Electyawn Day

I have never been so appalled by the selection of representation afforded voters in my little corner of The Beach. I can't talk about the New Bedford election because I don't want to skew the turnout numbers. I have "11%" in the turnout pool, and the weather is pretty crummy, so "woo-hoo." Anyway, the following speculation is way more interesting.

Fall River is watching a conspiracy theory embracing its sweetly clumsy swan song. For three decades, every guy whose pal didn't get elected, every loopy old lady, every talk-show caller has asserted that Fall River is controlled by a sinister cabal that controls the media, all the boards and commissions, the City Council, and the School Committee. The ninnies who vilify these fellow ninnies have succeeded only in giving the members of that group enough "power" to allow them to actually become a sinister cabal. Their "power" is theirs because nobody else wants it. And it's all perfectly all right with them.
Luckily, this group is a benevolent (if dopey and socially-awkward) presence which has stood idly by while the machinations run. Run down.
Voters don't vote, people don't work, taxpayers complain, kids drop out of school, project money from Boston is drying up, Federal funds are loaded with provisions and stipulations. Every footslog forward the great cabal takes is actually a step back. Which is pretty good for them, because their heyday was twenty-five years ago. A more energetic coterie would have stumbled into organized crime by now.
Years ago, a member of the State Legislature explained it very simply to me: "When I want to retire, I'll become Mayor of Fall River." As I said, that was years ago. All you had to do was spend a few years doing some indeterminate thing voters find unfathomable yet compelling. Get your name on a bill, in the paper, on signs in yards. Then, insist that you alone have the experience in doing something which must be allowed to continue or all will be lost. Or that only you can bring your considerable acumen to city leadership. And it's all over by Wednesday morning. Today's conditions aren't as favorable. Voters learn stuff about governance, even if it's only from neighbors or the Interwebs. Voters see through a contrived sham "arts alliance" or "shopping district." People are starting to demand "accountability" and "transparency."Over are the days of rewarding pals with contracts or jobs. Gone is the easy pension.
Although there is an older electorate who, voting in the mirror, respect experience and vote for it here, there are just enough young voters who look at your name and shrug, "Who?" The "Vote for Change" mentality, though growing in the SouthCoast, only thrives elsewhere. Because the only people who vote are the ones who have been voting for you and your vague background for decades. The ones you drive to the polls.
But they'll be gone soon.
And I'll miss you.


No comments: