I’m a simple guy from the ‘Burgh who, through no fault of his own, found himself transplanted to the South. In the decade or so that I’ve been stranded here I have made what I feel to be an honest attempt to “blend in” with the natives. I stopped wearing socks with my sandals, I actually own a beach cruiser, and I no longer think that it’s strange to give distances in miles instead of minutes.
Sometimes though, something will happen and once again I’ll be forcibly reminded that this is a different world than the one I grew up in and that I can’t expect this town to be as uniquely awesome as my hometown.
I’m sure that most of you are already aware that our county is facing an education budget crisis of significant proportions. In fact, things are looking downright grim for quite a few teachers, programs, schools, and homeless puppies right now.
Several very bright people have already come up with a perfectly workable solution to this budget problem, but since the plan seems to revolve around increasing property taxes by a whole penny, it is seen as draconian and completely unworkable by many residents.
In an effort to whip up support for the schools and teachers in general and the budget plan in particular, a political “rally” was held yesterday afternoon. I put the word “rally” in dubious quotation marks only because it was completely unlike anything I expected and I was fairly startled by what I witnessed.
Everybody from anywhere in the Rust Belt knows the essentials for any good political rally. You need speakers who are willing to be fired up about whatever your cause is (the more swearing and chair-tossing the better), kegs of beer, and at least half a dozen women in cutoff shorts distributing buttons. Basically, if the people at your rally aren’t willing to march in protest and set some stuff on fire when it’s over, you’re doing it wrong.
So you can imagine my bewilderment when I attended yesterday’s rally. It started off well enough in the football stands with some guy talking into a microphone, but from there it quickly devolved into a faculty meeting.
People were more interested in explaining the situation and the facts about their plan than they were about verbally abusing the closest elected official. At no time did anyone raise their voice and I didn’t hear one single F-Bomb! After several minutes of this, everyone got politely up and went into the high school auditorium, where they had a little cake and received some very nice door prizes… DOOR PRIZES!
At this point I was thoroughly confused and asked several people where the real rally was and even offered to take a turn pumping the keg; that’s how serious I am about this issue! Sadly it turns out that these polite people listening attentively to the Fearless Leader explain how he was going to feel really badly about firing his staff and how much harder his job is going to be next year without anyone to Fearlessly Lead WERE the rally and that I should stop being so fired up and sit down before I made a scene.
The highlight of the rally had to be when one of the speakers insisted several times that they weren’t there to tell the elected Fearless Leaders how to do their job; there were just there to let them know that they’re concerned about the budget. Really? I rather thought that the whole point of a rally (not to mention a representative government) was exactly to tell our Fearless Leaders how we want them to do their jobs! Otherwise it’s not a rally, it’s a polite letter to the editor.
I propose that we show these Southern folks how to hold a rally. I am perfectly willing to camp outside the county seat with my BBQ grill and bullhorn and shout ideas and demands at the windows until someone either drags me off in handcuffs, I run out of bratwursts, or our Fearless Leaders get off their collective asses and do something.
Who’s bringing the beer?