Thursday, October 21, 2010

SouthCoast: At Least a Generation Ahead!

''One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.'' Ain't that the truth.The educated elite ("NYTimes readers," in knuckle-dragger parlance) are all atwitter about Maureen Dowd noticing that politics is full of celebrated dimwits this season, and that these flaming avatars of the absurd appear about to ascend to authority. Well, that's what you get when you've created a political environment that rewards cloddish amateurs who, while appealing to the common folk, appease the indubitable imperators.

You struggle to name Supreme Court cases, newspapers you read and even founding fathers you admire? No problem. You endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who is the nominee in West Virginia? Oh, well. At least you're not one of those "spineless" elites with an Ivy League education, like President Barack Obama, who can't feel anything.
It's news to Christine O'Donnell that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. It's news to Joe Miller, whose security guards handcuffed a journalist, and to Carl Paladino, who threatened The New York Post's Fred Dicker, that the First Amendment exists, even in tea party land. Michele Bachmann calls Smoot-Hawley Hoot-Smalley.
Sharron Angle sank to new lows of obliviousness when she told a classroom of Hispanic kids in Las Vegas: "Some of you look a little more Asian to me."
As Ms. Palin tweeted in July about her own special language: " 'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"

"Chic" is a funny word. It's French, so not particularly useful in contemporary discussions of American national politics.
This better be loaded."Chic" is a word that is never used in Fall River, where I endured a lot of adolescent ribbing about my bag full of books.
Considered a cumbersome luxury by most SouthCoasters, books were available at three outlets when I was young: The public library, a PaperBack BookSmith at the Harbor Mall, and at some used bookstaores that were filled with tuberculosis and tobacco stains.
At one of the latter establishments, I was asked by the kobold sulking behind the counter, "Whaddaya do with alla them books?"
Ignorance? It's not some new trendy thing around here, Maureen Dowd. We've been doing it for decades!
From the sideways looks that a bowtie earns to the shocking physical violence that accompanied a door held open out of courtesy, the SouthCoast has made manifest this "Ignorance Paradigm." Discourtesy is customary in a borough that rolls its eyes at expressions of gratitude. Rules that are matter of course elsewhere are seen as foreign and incongruous. Language is debased. "Industry standards?"
What's that?
The salesman whose motto in business is "Ignore and avoid." The advertising executive who chirps that "any monkey can write copy." The boss who doesn't provide performance reviews or workplace guidelines but stamps and screams at staff. The winking forced surprise at a woman's accusations of harassment, violence, sexual malfeasance. The business whose doors open only whenever the help decides to shuffle in.
The politician who "don't care nothin about what no paper says."
The guise of populism enables the amateurish, eventually presenting as a demand for the shoddy, and the indignant and often unintelligible extenuation and excuses that come with it. There are board members and trustees and staff who are more skilled at denying failure than at actually succeeding.
And the blue collar folks -- who distrust the suits and ties and fancypants -- will loudly defend those boardroom bugbears. Because the rabble have been brought up to venerate the seatwarmers for their cleverness. And that "cleverness" is primarily the SouthCoast leadership's widespread ignorance of real-world business models and protocols -- starting with mere courtesy.
"No foul," they claim. "We don't need no outsiders tellin us what to do."
As many local politicians will publicly attest, the local voters "do not know how things work." So keeping the reality of juggling compromise ("politics") out of the public eye is key to a lifelong politician's long life in politics.
Unfortunately, any citizen can serve as an elected representative of his or her neighbors, no matter what intellect or skills he or she lacks.
And we've got that.
(This presentation includes pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Diana Dors.)

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