Tuesday, August 2, 2011

win or go home

The forecast said golf-ball-sized hail and 60-mph winds were a possibility in some parts of the state yesterday evening ... and that a wider expanse could expect some major storms. And so it was that under lowering and sometimes spitting skies that my younger son's baseball team took to the field and decimated the nine young men who had beaten them on two previous occasions. As a result, there will be one final game tonight -- for the championship. Win or go home.

Locally, there is an election today to fill the seat of the ward councilor who quit -- or was she pushed? -- several months ago. Two political novices are running for office -- one younger and full of upscale talk about "consensus," the other a retired dentist touting his experience running a business. Win or go home.

In Congress, the Senate is poised to pass a debt-ceiling bill after bitter and dysfunctional bickering. The bill has passed the House. Conservatives have racked up a big win ... lots of cuts, no additional spending. A big W. Win or go home.

It's nothing new, I suppose, but I am struck these days by the willingness of politicians to claim they are merely representing the will of the people who put them in office -- standing by the best interests of that constituency ... but without ever wondering if those best interests are really in the best interests of the constituency. It's a little like the Israeli ability to slip through the cracks: If they are caught out in some political nefariousness, they may don a religious mantle as an excuse ... we've suffered in the past and our experience means we can do as we please in the present.

Is a politician doing his or her job if the best s/he can do is represent the best interests of a constituency? On the one hand, it sounds good. On the other hand, what if the will of that constituency is to cut spending on the schools that will educate their children or the roads and bridges that will carry their cars or the food safety that will protect them from the burgers on their table or the internet funding that will allow their country to be competitive with ... the Netherlands? And that's not to mention wars with no substantive, transparent reasons and kills their children and the children of others?

What a tough nut, enunciating and enacting the democratic "best interests." If "the will of the people" is followed, then LaRochefoucauld's maxim flowers: "The intelligence of the mass is inversely proportionate to its number" ... and a flag-waving, roadkill devolution rises up. But if a well-thought-out decision is enacted, the will of the people is in some sense ignored ... and the arrogance of dictatorship whispers.

Win or go home. I'm glad I'm not a politician.

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