There are two very basic tenets to SouthCoast voting:
- Be fair, and
- Be fair to incumbents.
SouthCoast voters are thrilled to maintain a nebulous quality of fairness. If the legislature is full of those Tax'n'Spend Liberals (who are their own party, although it's pronounced Democrat), then you can be sure that the next Governor will be a hard line budget-slashing Republican. (Except if there's a hard line budget-balancing Democrat running who seems capable of getting a train down here. Then, you just point at the "'tard Speaker," hold your nose and vote for the black guy.) Also, make sure to vote for people with Portuguese surnames, because the Portuguese never have a chance around here. It's all fair, and you can go about continuing to drive your local educational system back to hickory sticks and handheld slates with chalk slivers for the cipherin'.
As demonstrated in recent election campaigns, SouthCoast voters are told that voters desire change, and should make sure that the people who are currently in power enact that change. Just the way they always have. SouthCoast voters are generally elderly supporters of the same names that have been on the ballot for forty years. Change must be slow, so we know what we're getting into. And you like that boy who gives the ride to the polls. Even though you live upstairs from the polling place.
Back when I had to give a crap about Fall River (because it was my job and I took my jobs seriously then), a colleague who was as challenged by thought and language as Leo Pelletier told me that Leo was elected by people who were dumber than Leo. 91,000 people county-wide when he ran for (and lost) Sheriff in '04. Dumber Than Leo. Great name for a band.
I don't often give any credence to funny-paper comics like Howie Carr. His "Boston-is-1930's-Chicago-see-yeah" shtick is tiring and just plain wrong. (Oh, and The Sopranos isn't real, and nobody really cares where Whitey Bulger is. Give it up.) He was barely entertaining during the commute I had to take from Burlington MA to Tiverton RI back when talk radio wasn't foul and I took marketing/writing jobs that were meaningless but paid well. I can't imagine what it's like now. (Radio, not inconsequential employment.)
But even a blind squirrel can unearth a cliché to munch once in a while, so Howie takes a moment to look down upon the SouthCoast and, erm, look down upon the SouthCoast. If your browser doesn't support douchebag, here's the upshot:
Leo Pelletier, longtime knuckledragging City Councillor, is often called "hard-working." Because he finds manners and the English language hard to work. Leo is the Perfect Storm of of Fall River mores, intellect, and politics. Fall River voters don't like suits and ties, because you can't trust them. Leo is sweaty, unkempt, and "drunk uncle" charming. Fall River voters do not value education. "Street smarts" are more important than "book smarts" and felons who "pay their debt to society" are supposed to get right back into their municipal jobs because everyone deserves a second chance. And a third. And an eighth. Because it's only fair.
And Leo wants to take over the position vacated by Queen-elect Bob I'mayorbecausemynamerhymeswithmayor. State Rep. Which is the magical Fawrivah Fairy-tale next step to "Mayor of Fall River." You can't just go from City Councillor to Mayor. Unless you Ascend by Accident, like Dan Bogan or Bill Whitty. And then you can get to wave your Formerhood around to get a good seat at Magoni's or the Venus. Which aren't even in Fall River.
Because the people who are politicians in SouthCoast are born to the job and must always have it, because The Benevolent Elders of Southcoast won't remove them. It wouldn't be fair. And the same names come back again and again, even though they're only required to act as though they're doing something. "Look busy" is the only instruction in SouthCoast politics. And that's why SouthCoast politics is a constant embarrassment, why educated young people do not take part in politics. Because it's a game for the entrenched, the archaic, and the sincerely delusional.
And as a spectator sport, it's just plain boring.