All politics is local politics

I have this newspaper picture framed:

The article, which I believe ran in what was then the Monadnock Ledger, went like this:

Junkyard owner Daniel Kingery can strip used cars, but he can’t host strippers, according to zoning board members.

The board on Tuesday rejected an appeal by Kingery, who sought to run a strip club in his junkyard by calling it a “cultural facility.”

He had been told by the town’s code enforcement officer to close his club on Route 202 North.

But Kingery argued his business is a cultural facility, like a musuem, which is permitted in a rural zone.

Town officials said there’s nothing “cultural” about strippers dancing in a junkyard, and the zoning board agreed.  They ruled Kingery’s business has no place in a rural zone and is banned by an anti-pornography zoning law that voters adopted last month.

The board said Kingery offered no evidence that his club is cultural, and that is was clear from his testimony that it was sexually oriented.

Kingery said he would appeal to Hillsborough County Superior Court.

In the picture, he’s attempting to make his case by reading the dictionary entry for the word “cultural.”

And that is why I’m not going to vote today.

Okay, okay, so I’ll vote today.  But I’m not going to like it!  I’ll tell you why.

It’s because you and I are the people on the zoning board.  We have a day job, right?  We’ve been working all day, and we really just want to go home and have a burger and a beer and watch some stupid TV.  But it’s an election year, so purely out of an inescapable sense of civic duty, we put on a clean shirt and head out to the town hall.  And there we sit in a cold, metal folding chair, listening to Dan Kingery read the defnition for “culture” out of the dictionary.

Maybe you’re the Sipowicz-like guy in the foreground, with his orthopedic sneakers and his forbearing face of stone, willing to listen forever as the guy buries himself in his own b.s.  Maybe you’re the stringy old man with the work shirt and the razor-sharp part in his greasy old hair, who’s participating mostly out of spite.  Maybe you’re the wounded-looking matron who’s heard this kind of nonsense one too many times, and just wants to sign a petition for a new wheelchair ramp in front of the library and go home.  Or maybe you’re the trunk-legged old bat at the end of the row, who’s happily drawing kitties in her notebook as the meeting goes on and on and on.

Point is, this is you, the voter:  the one with the decency to show up one more time, drum up a little faith in the system, donate a few more hours of your precious time in case someone has something useful to say to you.

And you know who the politicians are.  They’re all Dan Kingery.  Doesn’t matter how you vote — this is, more or less, who you’re voting for:

The guy didn’t even wash his beard before coming to the meeting.  He didn’t even put on his best flannel shirt.  The Dan Kingerys who want your vote have already set up this hideous junkyard in your backyard, and there’s nothing anyone can do about that — but now they’re trying to bring in strippers, too.

Because there’s two things he believes:  that he deserves to get what he wants, and that everyone else is some kind of idiot.  Their only plan is to make this county a little bit crappier, but they won’t be satisfied with that — they have to try and make it seem like they’re doing you a favor, too.

Man, I wish there were a way of giving someone, like, a stink vote.  Like: okay, you get my ballot, but you need to know that you are not fooling me for one second.  You need to know that I will vote for you because your stench isn’t quite as stenchy as the guy from the Stench Party.

But just because I voted for you, that doesn’t mean I think you smell all right.  You don’t get my trust, you don’t get my support, you don’t get my approval.  All you get is my stinking stink vote.

I’ll vote, I’ll vote!  Now leave me alone.

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58 comments

  1. Like this. Except I’m not voting because I live abroad and every time I’ve mailed my ballot in it hasn’t gotten there. So I’ve given up.

  2. I agree with you completely. And I already voted – absentee – because I knew I wouldn’t feel like putting on a clean shirt today.

  3. Oh man.

    I’ll drop the name because I know you’ll recognize it. This is exactly how I feel about voting for Charlie Bass, which I will do today. I’ll do it, because the alternative is way worse. But I’ll be holding my nose.

  4. So you feel like this too? I am so tired of it all.

    My husband is not voting today because, well, because all of the above. At this point everyone just stinks to him; they all have slightly different stenches, but none really better than the other. I’m going alone to the polls. 😦

  5. I feel exactly like this, but I am not sure I can keep it up much longer. I voted ‘Not Democrat (not stench)’ the last two elections, but it is getting harder and harder to drum up that little bit of faith in the system. I really don’t see that voting Republican will make a difference (and in some areas might make things worse).

    The democrats are fools…if their stench weren’t so abominable, they might get a guy like me to just give up, but they seem intent on keeping guys like me politically involved by increasingly taking the stink to levels that are so offensive that I feel compelled to speak against it even if only with my little useless vote.

  6. We all feel the same about the stench. I wrote a letter to my two senatorial candidates, telling them I wasn’t voting for either one of them, based on the appalling way they were treating each other. We continue to hold our nose and vote for the less stinky candidate, and we call it civic responsibility. But I think our civic responsibility is to change the tenor of politics, and the only way to do that is for ALL of us to SIT OUT when there is not a good candidate–and to tell them why we’re doing it.

    This is counter to everything we’ve been taught, but I think if we keep sending stinky people to government, we’re enabling stinky government. I know someone is going to go regardless, but at least if we punish them for the smear campaigns, we have a prayer of changing smear campaigns into positive campaigns.

    Here’s the letter I wrote:

    http://kathleenbasi.com/2010/10/14/an-open-letter/

  7. How many times do I have to tell you to move to Steubenville? We’ve got at least a few candidates you can feel good voting for this time around. Almost makes it worth going outside and breathing in the pollution.

    • Hahaha! A Schmiesing says it all! I just don’t know if the pollution would be bearable. After breathing it in for the years in college, I don’t know if I could do it or allow our children to.

  8. Man, I wish there were a way of giving someone, like, a stink vote.

    What a great idea!! Then I could save my “good vote” for the three politicians who really, actually live a Christian life in and out of the political system.

    Unfortunately, I have the sense that the self-centered, inflated-ego, “Reality? What reality?” Dan Kingerys of the system STILL wouldn’t get it. “Damn tea-partiers! (Or: Damn unions! etc.) They came in here and derailed the stink-vote process!”

    Oh, no, it couldn’t be YOU, could it, Mr./Mrs. Kingery…

    But at least the rest of us would get it.

    • Simcha, this post perfectly sums up my feelings. Denise, I no longer believe there are 3 sincere politicians. When Rick Santorum endorsed Arlen Specter over pro-lfe Pat Toomey in the 2004 PA Senate primary, I slowly began to realize they’re all whores. They all worship at the altar of getting reelected.

      My heart was broken. I’ll never again work for a political candidate. If we couldn’t couldn’t even get a federal parental notification bill passed – not a consent bill, just notification – at any point during GWB’s presidency, then we’re never going to get one passed. The culture of life needs to be built outside the voting booth.

      I did vote this morning, because I’m hoping some of the whores I’m voting for won’t take as much of our money in taxes as the other whores, but really, it’s only money, so I don’t have much invested in today’s outcome.

      • Oh yeah, I’m with you, Eileen, when it comes to anything at the national level (ie. Congress, etc.). I can think of… uh… well, at least TWO politicians in our state House/Senate that were genuinely great, moral, people-oriented folks who voted like they told you they would and never ran a negative campaign. Too bad one of them retired this year…

        Maybe I was being a bit generous with three. 😉

  9. Voting third-party is a vain exercise, I know (in both senses of the word). But at least it’s preferable to not showing up, or leaving a ballot spot blank. So that’s how I handled a lot of the statewide races this year, where there was just no stomaching either of the major-party nominees.

    And actually, there’s a Libertarian running for Public Service Commission who my whole family got genuinely excited about. Would love to see him crack double-digits…would be a nice shot across the bow for Southern Company (who pretty much own the Legislature…grrr…).

  10. If the slightly less stenchy candidate manages to win (in spite of himself) you can fire off an angry letter to your congressman-elect tomorrow morning telling him he smells like a fish. Anger is an energy.

    But hey, Ayotte seems solid.

    • “Ayotte seems solid.”

      That’s debatable. I would’ve felt much better going to the booth today if Ovide was on the ballot.

      • Yeah, I don’t have anything against her. I just really liked Ovide, and I think she – and basically all the candidates from everywhere – has been too negative in her ads. I hate negative political ads. They’re creepy and annoying and far too demonizing of “the other side” ooga booga! I still voted for her.

  11. We’ve got a few solid people in MN as well, although as per usual one doesn’t hold out too much hope, but we vote anyway. You’ve got to vote your conscience, even if yours is the only decent vote amidst a sea of stench, to loosely paraphrase a founding father.

    What would they think if they could see the country today? I think they’d have another revolution. Treason! Treason! I love Patrick Henry. 😀 He’d fire everybody up out of their careworn-apathetic-everyone-smells-so-why-bother lamentations.

  12. That is what we need! A stink vote. It would be a crying shame to think that these fellows were going around thinking they actually have us fooled…

  13. That picture is classic and the post makes it even better. Junkyard strippers!! That’s funny. Wouldn’t make it far in my neck of the woods, but we do have our own brand of Daniel Kingerys.

  14. I’ve been so excited for today. We have a system that is good, a system that works. If the people are stinky, we try to cultivate a society that brings forth individuals who reflect what we know to be good. And that takes time.

    Look at those Iranian women. They faced a real possibility of being shot when they went to vote. Look at their joy — and I bet their options were a whole lot stinkier than ours.

    • While I loved this post because it empathized with a lot of what I’m feeling about today, you, Colet, are awesome. Thank you for posting that message and bringing my perspective back to reality.

  15. I’m with Colet. You’re not going to find pure as snow candidates out there, not a winning ones anyway. What you will find is a system that functions better than any other, one that allows for influence on issues that matter.
    Vote vote vote!

  16. Our system perpetuates the tyranny of the mediocre. Why sell our souls to gain the Congress? Don’t Vote! Don’t Vote! Don’t Vote!

    • What’s selling your soul–voting for someone you know is bad? Or just participating in the whole system? I just left the Charlie Bass part blank, because I didn’t want to vote for a pro-abortion candidate. My husband voted for him, to help give the republicans a majority, which hopefully will help the pro-life cause, with or without Bass. I don’t think either of us sold our soul.

      If you can’t get out there to vote because you think they’re all stinkers, then the only people who are voting are the people who don’t have a problem with even the worst candidates, which means they’re voting for the greater of two evils. If pro-lifers don’t vote for pro-life candidates, because they don’t live up to their other ideals, then only the pro-abortion people will be voting, and they’ll be voting for the candidates who are on the wrong side of _all_ the issues. In this election, it could plausible be a life-or-death difference, if enough republicans are elected to repeal the health care bill–or am I being naive?

  17. Yes, you are being naive.

    1. Charlie Bass supports gave evils. A Catholic, in good conscience, cannot vote for him. Does that mean the Democrat who supports grave evils might win? That brings me to ..,

    2. The entire system is evil and corrupt. Our choices are always one evil or the other evil. Our only option is to not vote.

    3. By the way, remember when we had a
    Prolife president with a prolife house and senate? Stopped abortion, didn’t it?

    Suckers vote. Stop taking part in the sham. Stop voting.

    • 1. I don’t think it’s right to vote for Bass either, that’s why I didn’t… So I just left that part of the ballot blank, but I did vote for people who weren’t just the lesser of two evils, like Kelly Ayotte. (Unless there’s something I don’t know about her; I admit that I am not very well informed.) But I don’t think you can claim that every election is a choice between a Democrat evil and a Republican lesser evil. Sometimes there is someone good to vote for, or often the problem with the lesser-of-two-evils is not bad enough that it would be morally wrong to vote for them.

      2. How is it the system’s fault if the candidates are evil? what would you suggest?

      3. No, it didn’t end abortion. But this is not an all-or-nothing situation. Bush & co. did not end abortion, but Bush reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which quite probably saved many lives. Sure it got repealed immediately by Obama, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t save those lives. It wasn’t a permanent or complete solution, but it was a good thing, and it was accomplished by a man whom pro-lifers voted for. If the healthcare bill is repealed, it won’t end abortion, but it may save lives. Even if it saves one life, it’s worth it. What good are you doing by _not_ voting? Oh, right, exposing the sham.

      • Forget the lesser of two evils nonsense. Evil is evil. The Rs and the Ds are equally awful, and voting for either is participarting in evil.

        The Mexico City policy is window dressing. They only do that BECAUSE it can be over turned so easily. If this is about saving lives, HOW CAN YOU COMPROMISE?

        By the way, how much money did W. give planned parenthood? How many billions? Did that save any lives?

        Again. Don’t vote. You are being used.

          • “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from
            the consent of the governed, that
            whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
            the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
            it, and to institute new Government,”

            stop giving your consent. stop voting.

            • aww, a peacemaker. But if you had just said you thought both parties were evil and a vote for them was participating in evil, Iould have seen where you were coming from. That’s a reasonable opinion. Even if it is kind of….idealistic. Ok, I’m done now!

  18. I’m a sucker, I’ll admit it. I voted, I still think that some of the candidates I voted for are halfway decent people, and I know for sure that some of the ones I voted against are ethically challenged on more than the life issue. But I can’t say that I made even one single enthusiastic circle on the ballot. There used to be at least one person I could vote for happily, now it’s always just the lesser of two evils, and the margin is getting smaller and smaller all the time. There was a guy who seemed pretty decent running for a statewide office, then he started resorting to the same sort of negative ads as his opponent. Imploring him to take the high ground on his website was a wasted effort. One more candidate I have less respect for than I did 6 months ago, and this one is our pastor’s cousin!

  19. I truly believe that MOST politicians are doing their best. Do they disagree with me on issues, sometimes many – absolutely! On issues that we agree on, do we agree on how to go about doing them? Often times no. Do I think that any of this makes them evil even if they’re wrong? No. But the life of most politicians is crazy and I truly believe that most are trying to do what they think is right. Is voting awful for me as a liberal Catholic – oh yeah. But if I don’t give voice to my opinion and try and affect change, then I am acting by my inactivity. God bless the USA.

  20. I usually love your writing, but I don’t get this post at all. In this story, the town officials and the zoning board are the politicians, not this Kingery guy. As far as I can tell, they did the right thing, and had to suffer through a long, farcical speech in the process. How does this show politics is bankrupt? Sure, giving that guy his day in court seems like a waste of time, but if people want to be jerks that badly, they’ll manage it, in any political system. Unless you’re saying we should have a police state, to muzzle the jerks who are a waste of oxygen without having to give them due process.

  21. AN – Yeah, it wasn’t a perfect analogy. You’re right: in this news story, the system worked perfectly, and decent people prevailed. I meant it as a metaphor for the relationship the voters have with politicians: the voters have to put up with disingenuous, dirtbag politicians who are only interested in making things worse. The expression on the face of the bald guy in the foreground just reminded me of how I feel when I listen to political ads: not buying it, just waiting for it to be over so I can do my duty.

  22. I see – I didn’t catch that it was an analogy. Duh!

    I’m not sure I agree even then, though. I mean, it’s the easiest thing in the world to dump on “politicians” – kind of like lawyers and used car salesmen. But it seems more cynically self-congratulatory than true or useful.

    Sure, some of them are bad, and probably they all care more than they should about public opinion, but as a class, politicians have some virtues – they aspire to something nobler than most of us who only want to earn a living and get by. For most, it’s probably more about honor than good government, but there’s still a certain nobility to that.

    And I’m not convinced that many aren’t genuinely driven to do good, despite the compromises they end up making. I just read a beautiful account by Michael Gerson of Bush’s efforts to pass his AIDS treatment program for Africa. It certainly sounded like he devoted great time, effort, and political capital to doing a thing that he believed should be done. Gerson says Bush repeatedly insisted it wasn’t good enough just to try; the program had to succeed, whatever that took. Seems to me that’s the political character-type at its best.

  23. It matters. It may not seem like it much of the time, but it matters.

    Of course, I got to vote for an actual pro-life Christian, a man I know and respect, so my experience may be somewhat unique in that regard. (He was reelected to the House with 64%.)

    Mind you, my senators still suck, but the bastards weren’t on the ballot yesterday.

  24. I vote for life. Makes it easier. I only have one issue to research. Either the candidates are pro-life or pro-death.

    Generally speaking, they are not perfect and I don’t agree with a lot of what goes on. But still, I vote for life.

    • That’s what I try to do, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. If you vote for someone who claims to be pro-life but then votes pro-abort, then what have you done? You’ve told the party that all you want is a pat on the head, and you’ll be happy — and nothing changes. I don’t see how that’s better than voting for someone who’s outspokenly pro-abortion. I left a lot of spaces on the ballot blank.

      This year, I think the best we can hope for is some good old fashioned obstructionism. I don’t expect anything to get any better – I just want things to get clogged, so it doesn’t get any worse.

  25. But if you don’t vote then the greater evil wins. I may not be happy about my choices but if I have to choose between a socialist/marxist and someone who is less of a socialist/marxist than I’m choosing the lesser of two evils.

    You aren’t proving anything to anyone by staying home. Your’e just letting the greater evil win.

    • So evil still wins. Haven’t we played this game long enough? Who cares what people think. I’ll sleep better knowing I didn’t participate in the race to the bottom. We’ll get there, but I refuse to help.

      • True, a guy with a knife trying to kill you is evil just like the guy with an automatic rifle. However, I’d still prefer to take my chances defending myself against the guy with the knife.

        I wonder how many passive aggresive types there were during Hitler’s Germany? I guess they sure showed him huh? If you don’t participate you get the government you deserve.

          • Just so I’m understanding you, Jerk…

            “The entire system is evil and corrupt. Our choices are always one evil or the other evil. Our only option is to not vote.”

            vs.

            “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from
            the consent of the governed, that
            whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is
            the Right of the People to alter or to abolish
            it, and to institute new Government”

            So by not voting – remaining passive, removing yourself entirely from the process – you’re actually taking action to abolish the government and instituting a new one?

            What exactly are you recommending? Let’s all shut our eyes and wait it out till a pure and sinless system appears out of the ether?

  26. Usually I love your blog. But my brother just got back from Afghanistan. So I take my role as a citizen very seriously. And that makes me an earnest, patriotic nerd, I know, to the eyes of most. Our system’s not perfect. But it’s better than any other out there.

  27. MaryEmily, I don’t have a problem with the system, and I know that its better than any other out there. I just don’t like my choice of politicians this year. I take my role as a citizen very seriously, too, and that’s why I voted,albeit without enthusiasm.

    Thanks to your brother for his service!

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