Rendered Fat Content


Unknown Artist:
The Rail Candidate. (1918)

"Democracy is a form of governance utterly dependent upon such delusion."

During the presentation, I lean over to whisper into The Muse's ear, "It's rare to see a candidate simultaneously balance atop three third rails." The Candid-Ate, of course, seems oblivious. She appears to believe that her positions represent the very soul of reasonableness, and they might, within the narrow world she seems to have inhabited. We live on what must seem the fringes of her district. Her comparisons and even her metaphors employ characterizations that disclose that she doesn't know the perspectives of most of her electorate. It's okay; she's free to stand on anything during her candidacy, even abject public insanity. Lord knows the opposition often has and continues. She will be eaten alive by her competitors. I pray that her candidacy does not survive even until the primary. She's still too much the naive rookie to survive even a modestly better-informed challenge. She'll embarrass herself in anything like a public debate. She does exceptionally well in that department all by herself.

Candidacy seems like a simple extension of something most of us do.
We often share our opinions, but it's not the same when running for public office. Subtle rules govern these engagements. Many of these rules remain unwritten despite centuries of study, probably because they're fundamentally unwritable. Many seem contingent and so cannot be crisply stated, and even the contingencies tend to remain indistinguishable for most intents and purposes. The savvy might know them when they see them without ever understanding how to explain them. The pros insist that an additional sense guides them. One either has that sense, or it's missed them. This Candid-Ate doesn't seem to have noticed it missed her. She seems a blur, out of focus, spouting irrelevance.

The machine she jousts with seems unforgiving and vicious. It does not need to care about anything. It appears the very soul of voracious with hunger no mortal could ever quench. It wants definitive statements that will smother whoever deigns to make them. It wants definite positions because those best leave the candidate’s soul exposed. It demands crisp answers to floppy issues. It wants high polish on surfaces that are antagonistic to wax. It expects precision, or it returns derision. It's bloodless blood sport featuring genuine mortal dangers and should not be undertaken without some sobering assessments of one's chances. Anything less than a fifty-percent probability likely won't prove worth it. Those who run just to make some statement poison their own future first. Anyone failing to carefully assess their purpose and chances will receive few invitations to dance. Only serious masochists even need to apply.

I cringe through her over-long introductory statement, little better informed for the excursion. What was supposed to serve as an introduction disclosed way too many details. I felt lost in the weeds she planted before painstakingly pointing them out. I'm plotting her demise for her before she's anything near to finished. I stop listening once I catch on to what she's doing. Just another hopeful going nowhere. It's common for someone to be still crafting their positions at the beginning, but some core of their presence had better be stable from the start, or the journey's over before it leaves the stable. She eventually seems patronizing, pointedly reassuring as if she had somehow become the parent and we her needy children. She appears to be suffering from Leader's Syndrome, which causes its host to believe that they're supposed to be in charge of deciding. How absolutely Byzantine of a position for an advertised progressive to assume.

The purpose of the political machine must be to eat candidates. Some qualified ones get chomped, but rafts of the less qualified go down. It's not the purpose of that machine to decide who's most qualified or who might necessarily turn out to be the best incumbent. Its purpose seems different. It provides a stage upon which candidates perform absurdist plays. Some seem like serious students of The Method, while others rely upon whatever charisma God decided to give them. It might not matter. Some succeed, while most will splatter. Some of the best will fail to pass the test. A few of the worst will render absurd what might have otherwise been serious performance—governance results. The gauntlets candidacy encounters seem necessary, though they might garble messages and leave considerable messes dripping down shirtfronts. I fancy that my internal dialogue can tell who's viable and who's not, though this might well be another illusion. Democracy is a form of governance utterly dependent upon such delusions.

©2024 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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