Friday, November 02, 2012

"Re-elect the Whopper"


c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(10-12)

The monthly meeting of our Geauga Writers' Roundtable was about to commence.

I sipped McDonald's coffee while looking through my notes. Around the table, fellow journalists from across the county busied themselves with similar tasks. In attendance were Carrie Hamglaze, writer and former city councilperson; Mack Prindl, editor of the Parkman Register; Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, editor of the Burton Daily Bugle; and Martha Ann Reale, editor of the Newbury Siren-Monitor.

Carrie served as moderator of the meeting. In her hands was a cup of Irish tea.

"Welcome, my friends!" she cheered as the gathering came to order. "All of you are familiar with our habit of getting together to discuss issues of the day. But on this occasion, a different mood is in the air. It is election season. And we are writing stories of vital importance to our readers as they head off to the polls across Geauga County."

"Amen," Martha Ann agreed.

"We have a wonderful slate of candidates competing for voter approval," our host continued. "People like Mary Samide, Tracy Jemison, Ralph Sipdalieri, Jim Flaiz, Forrest W. Burt and Tim Grendell�"

Mack cleared his throat, dramatically.

"Let's not forget Fred Welty, Scott Matasar, JoAnne Wirtz, Robert Evans, Bonnie Cavanaugh and Mary Jane Trapp," he declared.

Ezekiel frowned. "Lots of good people. But it all comes down to grabbing one or the other. Like picking up an egg with your left hand, or your right."

My friend always employed colorful rhetoric when speaking, in part because of his Mennonite ancestry.

But Martha Ann shook her head at the rural metaphor. "What did you say, old man?"

Carrie gestured for attention. "To repeat myself, we have lots of great choices."

Ezekiel coughed loudly. "What we have is the opportunity to paint the barn red or blue. But not yellow. Not pink. Not green."

Mack was confused. "Huh? Who would paint a barn pink??"

I laid down my pen. "Okay, Zeke. You've got us all in the fog."

Our cohort from Burton raised his fist.

"Okay, I'll say it another way," he thundered. "Politics in America is like fast-food."

Silence filled the room.

"The Democrat / Republican run of our political system can be described in this way," Ezekiel continued. "It is the same as getting a dollar-menu meal. You have two choices. McDonald's or Burger King. Get a Big Mac or a Whopper. MAKE YOUR CHOICE! But, what if you want healthier vittles from Subway? Sorry, pardner. Subway is frozen out by a lack of money and supporters already in the government. Taco Bell for something different? No again. We are a FREE NATION. But, you get either a Big Mac or a Whopper. Arby's?? A great chain, but they will never win a national contest. You would be wasting your vote. What if you don't believe in fast food, at all? Sorry, they run the show. YOU ONLY GET TO CHOOSE WHAT IS ON THE POLITICAL MENU."

Martha Ann gasped, audibly.

"We march around the world and preach about democracy," Ezekiel concluded. "But in truth, we have only a hobbled version of that concept here at home. Look at England, for contrast. They enjoy genuine DEMOCRACY, with all its warts and blemishes. It's a real rodeo! Quirky and clunky, but genuinely representative of their people. What we know here is a philosophical fugazi."

I closed my eyes. The meeting had spun off-topic. Yet it was undeniably interesting.

Mack became perplexed. "Didn't Fugazi play for the Steelers?"

Carrie fought to catch her breath.

"Zeke, I think you are out of order!"

"No, you are out of order," he shouted. "Our whole political system is out of order!"

I closed my notebook. "Okay, friend. I am a card-carrying Libertarian. Your line of reasoning makes some sense to me, but� what's the solution? How do you advocate changes that are relevant to Geauga County, and the nation, as a professional journalist?"

"We've got to speak out," he answered. "The intelligent voters among us say... only an idiot would go for a Big Mac again. Mayor McCheese put us in the ditch. Re-elect the Whopper! But I say... third-party candidates in Geauga are the recipe for a good stew of ideas. And let's vote GARY JOHNSON for president!"

Mack rubbed his eyes. "This is getting crazy. Can't we just talk about the Steelers winning another Superbowl?"

Carrie stirred her Irish tea. "I must say that I do not agree with Zeke. The major-party structure keeps our nation on course. But he has a right to be heard."

"Nah, Big Ben has a right to be heard!" Mack roared. "Gold and black forever!"

"Well, how about some kudos for the Fishnet Mom?" I interjected. "She was the most interesting Geauga County personality we had in the news this year. Much more appealing than the same old elephant vs. donkey battle."

"Rodney!" Martha Ann choked.

Carrie nearly spilled her beverage. "Please! Can we come to order here?"

"The point here is that we have a lively debate in every election season," I reflected. "So long as we are able to openly express contrasting views, in public, our nation will remain free."

"Amen," Martha Ann repeated.

Carrie Hamglaze finished her tea. "I declare this meeting adjourned!"

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