“Not everybody is comfortable with the idea that politics is a guilty addiction. But it is. They are addicts, and they are guilty and they do lie and cheat and steal — like all junkies. And when they get in a frenzy, they will sacrifice anything and anybody to feed their cruel and stupid habit, and there is no cure for it. That is addictive thinking. That is politics — especially in presidential campaigns. That is when the addicts seize the high ground. They care about nothing else. They are salmon, and they must spawn. They are addicts.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Each year about this time, the Spring Triangle becomes visible in the heavens – a seasonal asterism formed by imaginary lines linking Arcturus in Boötes constellation, Spica in Virgo, and Regulus in Leo – forming a broad triangle in the night sky here in the northern hemisphere.
Normally, the celestial formation brings with it the optimism of positive change, the end of winter doldrums, the beginning of warm summer days, spiritual and environmental rebirth.
However, in an election year, it signals the start of aggressive, incessant, no-holds-barred campaigning by both hardened incumbents and neophyte politicians who are holding themselves out for high office in this foul year 2020.
As an observer of the local political scene, I am always intrigued why ostensibly reasonable people would willingly throw themselves into the meat grinder of modern politics – my hat’s off to them – God knows I don’t have the stomach for it.
Trust me. It’s not for the squeamish – and those who suddenly find they have a ‘fire in the belly’ should wait and determine if it’s a true call to service, or just abdominal cramps, before throwing their hat in the ring. . .
First, a declared candidate must cultivate the unnatural ability to suppress any sense of self-respect and grovel for nickels and dimes from family, friends and strangers, or, like many, simply sell their political soul to what The Daytona Beach News-Journal once described as our “Rich and Powerful” – the uber-wealthy oligarchs who throw the real money around and use our dysfunctional campaign finance system as an investment opportunity – a means of controlling their environment.
Next comes the process of buying your way onto the ballot by paying a qualifying fee ($2,171.52 for County Chair – $9,727.02 for Sheriff) and party assessment – or engage in the withering process of collecting thousands of signed petitions in every hog waller and rubber chicken supper in their district.
Then, the hard work begins.
Having spent most of my adult life in municipal government, I’ve had the privilege of serving with many outstanding elected servant-leaders who put their heart, sweat and soul into helping make their community a better place by ensuring more efficient service delivery, stewarding public funds in a responsible way, providing a safe environment, and facilitating inclusive public policies that support the social, civic and economic needs of all constituents.
Unfortunately, I have seen others who entered, or remained, in the “public service” with personal agendas that had nothing to do with the concept of service-above-self – petty assholes who became enamored with the trappings of office – too stupid to understand or care about their important role in preserving the public trust – who ultimately fell victim to the internecine wars and personal foibles that left their political careers in a smoking hole of ego-maniacal destruction.
Unfortunately, in Volusia County, we seem to have our share of uninspired dullards – perennial politicians who glide into high office on a wave of greenbacks supplied by our ‘economic and social elite’ who trade in elected officials each election season like cheap livestock.
A terrible local tradition that emboldens these political posers whose identity and sense of ego-driven power comes from their tinpot position on the dais of power – rather than the will of the people.
These political carbuncles have the singular goal of insinuating themselves into positions of influence where their compromised vote will result in a healthy return on investment for their “friends” and contributors – a system where the mere presence of a wealthy power-broker in the council chamber results in obedient reverence from their obsequious hired hands that comprise the elected body.
This year, in certain key races, the stakes could not be higher.
For instance, this week we learned that the Volusia County Council is preparing to “condense” and “fast-track” (read: neuter) the permitting process for any aerospace manufacturer with a connection to commercial spaceflight who seeks to locate operations in environmentally sensitive Southeast Volusia.
These grossly flawed ‘growth at all cost’ policies are spurred on by those craven “economic development” shills at Team Volusia and the Star Chamber of millionaires at the CEO Business Alliance.
Don’t take my word for it, read a recent article by News-Journal business reporter Clayton Park, “Volusia looks to step up recruiting space firms,” for a closer look at who is really controlling the direction of Volusia County’s artificial economy going forward.
When you add the increasing limitations on our right to even speak to our elected officials – let alone have substantive input in our local government processes – oppressive measures promulgated and supported by the same clueless incumbents with the temerity to ask us for our sacred vote yet again – you begin to see the continued shift away from a county government of, by and for the people.
Damn the expensive glossy mailers, television advertisements and fluffy endorsements of arrogant political insiders whose self-serving handiwork has left us with cancerous blight in many areas, given away our hard-earned tax dollars to support private profit motives and left thousands of area families struggling at or below the poverty line.
Disillusionment and frustration are understandable – apathy is not.
I implore you to use this campaign season to research the voting records of incumbents, examine campaign finance reports, look into the political heart of those who seek another bite at the apple and question the motivations and agenda of all candidates seeking higher office.
Now is the time for substantive change.
Vote like our lives and livelihoods depend on it.