I recently received a sincere note from a Barker’s View reader asking why I have a “hard on” for a certain highly accomplished former elected official.
My friend seemed convinced that this extremely wealthy and civically engaged individual is somehow different from the rest of the ineffective, self-serving politicos, highly paid slugs, puppeteers and hangers-on who I take to task on this page.
Perhaps he is – but I tend to judge people by their actions, not the strength of their personality – and a drive through the challenged commercial areas and neighborhoods of our communities tells me our powers-that-be can do better.
I realize these screeds can seem personal – even hurtful, at times – because stirring powerful emotions and public interest in the process is the intent.
Rest assured, I remain one of the few people in this nation that you can agree to disagree with and still be friends.
I make it a point not to lose pals over politics (others may dump me for my weird views or political leanings), but neither the national media, nor the raving of demagogues on either side of the political spectrum, are going to dictate my personal relationships.
Besides, I don’t have that many friends, and I’m not tossing anyone on the ash heap because they think President Trump is a fascist and I don’t – or they believe Jimmy Dinneen is the best county manager we’ve ever had (well, we might part company over that one. . .because only a lunatic would go that far. . .)
Look, I believe this blog only holds relevance to those who enjoy it – nothing I write here is going to change the world (or even DeBary, for that matter). But, thankfully, hundreds of people read Barker’s View each week to gain an alternative perspective on the news and newsmakers in east Central Florida and beyond.
Given the times, I believe that is important to our local discourse – and the future.
Smart people understand that, at the end of the day, this forum remains one man’s opinion. The genesis for additional dialog and analysis. Nothing more.
When I get a call or an email from one of our local ‘movers and shakers’ who I’ve taken to task and we can have a laugh over some satirical – even sarcastic – descriptor I’ve used, I know they “get it.” After clearing the air, invariably we get down to a productive discussion over the meat of the matter at hand. Often, we find some common ground and move the conversation beyond my goofy name-calling.
It is safe to assume that those people are true statesmen, men and women who have the flexibility of mind to understand that good public policy is forged in the searing heat of vastly differing public opinion – and that diktats handed down from on high rarely, if ever, serve the best interests of the governed.
Those who give me a flinty stare, or take personal offense to something I’ve written, are either too thin skinned for their chosen profession – in it for all the wrong reasons – or too self-absorbed to understand the grave issues we face here on the “Fun Coast.”
Besides, good governance does not occur in a vacuum.
Please understand, if you appear in this column it is because you are relevant. Vitally important to the political and economic health of Volusia County – an elected or appointed official, or someone extremely influential to our system of government and commerce.
If you read these essays, you are equally relevant. Vitally important to furthering the narrative and holding those in power accountable for their actions and intent, which is essential to the imperative of checks and balances in a representative democracy.
I guess what I’m saying is – if you get your knickers in a twist because I refer to you as a “malignant ulceration on the body politic” or a “rabid shitheel” – get over yourself.
Use the tone and tenor of these ham-handed dissertations as a means of gauging the sentiments of your constituency – rather than the limits of your own self-esteem.
I served in municipal government for three-decades, and trust me, I have faded some heat in my day. In fact, there were times I needed an asbestos suit just to show up for work in the morning – but that comes with the territory.
Suffice it to say, I’ve been called worse by better people than me.
Besides, eagles should not be angered by the jabbering of crows – grow a backbone (and a sense of humor).
Look, I admit it – I am singularly the most fucked-up person you know. A maniacal bastard who flails around every day seeking desperately to uncover what passes for ‘The Truth’ – and to understand the ramifications of that reality for my family, my friends – and my community.
Deal with it.
If you have been elected or appointed to a position of high office, or hold influence over the process in some way – then wield that awesome power in the interest of those who put you there.
Be open to alternative opinions and trust the suggestions of your constituents (especially when the sweat and spittle flies as they rage at you from the public podium) and make sound decisions – even when those difficult choices are controversial.
Our government was meant to be participatory.
The critical debate and evaluation of ideas and differing points-of-view are as vital to the process as elections.
These are the activities we expect of good citizens in a free and open society.
It’s what our Founding Fathers had in mind.
And if you still insist on taking it personally – well, screw you.
That’s your problem, not mine.