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  • Last modified 24 days ago (Oct. 1, 2020)

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Putting a toe tag
on the body politic

A handful of readers inevitably encourage us to find more good news, so this week we’ll indulge them by pointing out the best news we’ve heard in some time:

Election Day is just five weeks away. That means we soon will be able to return to the good old days when ambulance-chasing, bull-riding, upside-down lawyers were the main TV advertisers along with drug companies pushing miracle cures that can kill you for illnesses you didn’t know you had.

Our exclusive Rip Snorter Institute poll of likely registered voters in Oursler reveals an almost insurmountable lead for the one and only candidate currently not insulting our intelligence, a hale fellow well-met by the name of Nunof Th’above.

Nunof calls himself (or herself; we aren’t really sure) an independent, which clearly sets him, her, or they apart.

Among Nunof’s opponents, one party appears to be in the precarious position of sticking its head in the sand while using God knows what part of its anatomy to snap off ever more ridiculous tweets.

The other seems to be using one side of its mouth to talk about unity and dignity while out of the other side raising the specter of dismembering two centuries of successful federal counterbalances by trying to pack the Supreme Court, limit justices’ terms, and abolish the Electoral College and filibusters —thereby eliminating important minority rights and protecting against the historically proven disaster of instant, direct democracy, otherwise known as government by opinion poll.

Personally, we’d happily give our vote to whichever candidate is the first to propose a simple law requiring all telephone companies to ban robo-callers who spoof caller ID. But politicians these days are smarter than addressing an actual issue that impacts people.

Their brain trusts, if they can be called that, are fully aware of something that goes by the high-falutin’ name of Heuristic-Systemic Analysis under Persuasion Theory. Basically, it says that the more you talk about obscure things that don’t directly impact voters, the less likely voters are to analyze your position and the more likely they are to be persuaded by images and slogans.

That’s true whether the slogans are offensive, like “Vote No on Joe and the Hoe,” or the seemingly nice, like “Talking Over the Fence Like Neighbors Do.” Make the issues be guns, walls, abortion, billionaires’ taxes, or undocumented workers’ health care and you throw the race to whoever comes up with the catchiest slogan.

Here in our little corner of the world, we aren’t going to concern ourselves with affairs of the entire planet — though we do wonder a bit about one party calling for majority rule in all things, which inevitably would lead to China’s huge population ruling the planet.

Instead, we thought it might be time to trot out some local issues that no one seems to be addressing. Doing so, of course, would convince any rational voter to vote against us, particularly because we aren’t even sure what side we want to take on some of them. We just want to see them discussed — platform planks we can study, not just stand upon.

  • Is it time to eliminate most of classes in high school sports?

Teams used to be able to drive just a few miles and play opponents from neighboring communities, with which they had natural rivalries. Now they have to drive halfway across the state to find opposing schools with almost precisely the same enrollment.

The NCAA basketball tournament is popular because traditional powerhouses aren’t the only ones who can compete. It’s like the movie “Hoosiers” or Marion’s historic Terrible Tribe football team, mentioned in last week’s paper. Sports without classes are more meaningful and efficient.

Instead of spending taxpayer money on polluting fuel and fancy long-distance buses, then confining kids to the pandemic petri dishes they create, we could be investing in textbooks and tutors and time for additional learning.

At least we could do this with junior varsity C-teams. Maybe we could schedule all games for the same day. If we don’t have enough to have varsity and JV competitions at the same time, why do we have a JV anyway?

While we’re tilting at windmills other than those that provide electrical power, how about another idea:

  • Is it time to designate a bike and hiking path along the old Santa Fe right of way?

If we want to increase tourism, providing more for tourists to do surely would help. Bike and hiking paths are safe even in a pandemic, and a path between McPherson and Florence, with side excursions to the reservoir and the county lake, could prove quite popular.

  • Is it time to bring in outside experts to run public infrastructure that local crews appear unable to master?

How many decades do we have to hear the same excuses for why things don’t improve with the county’s roads or Marion’s power grid before we’re willing to consider another answer? We wouldn’t have this much patience with a football coach, even if his contract would have to be bought out if we sought a change.

  • Is it time for government to invest in more than just government workers?

Should the county begin thinking about using its borrowing power to build a county lake resort it could lease to a private operator who might bring tourists and jobs to the community?

Why does Marion have money to pay matching funds on grants for extravagances we don’t need but can’t seem to afford to replace dangerous curbing on Elm St. or a dangerous bridge on Locust St.?

Is anybody making sure the only progress on replacing the county lake’s heated fishing dock isn’t the cashing of checks paid to the contractor?

Why are we spending so much on ambulances and hospitals when very sick people have to go to distant hospitals and be hauled there by other ambulances?

Why, when private employees are lucky to keep even a portion of their former paychecks, are government employees getting big raises?

There are answers — legitimate ones, in most cases — to many of these questions. We just aren’t hearing them above all the sloganeering and name-calling.

These are supposed to be the types of questions election season focuses on via civil discussion and debate. But it certainly seems to be falling short of that not-so-lofty goal.

Maybe we need to hire one of those ambulance-chasing, bull-riding, upside-down lawyers to sue the entire political system for failing to deliver on its promise of trying to make politics great instead of grating.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified Oct. 1, 2020

 

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