Bill Miles

As I was making my rounds, I encountered an acquaintance who wanted to talk to me about crime and ‘bad things’. I circulate so that I can percolate. His analysis was to contradict another person we both know who he says blames the plight on “republicans”. This individual disagreed and blamed “democrats”. Asked my opinion and I remarked that I doubt that much of what’s going on around this region has anything to do with how you select your candidates. I surmised that more apt villains would be “power” and greed... The individual started giving me details of crimes and connections stretching all the way from the Smokey Mountains to our foothills of the Appalachians. While my ballot probably goes into a different primary hopper than that of the person talking, I’d like to think I’m more comfortable claiming that I’m an “Independent”. I bet he’d make the same assertion. However, neither of us at our age has the fortitude to promote a reduction in Social Security, Medicare C, Part D Prescription Drugs or Mississippi PERS. We like a lot of socialized benefits and ‘holler’ as our tax supported roads deteriorate, water systems dilapidate and rivers silt in. Most refrain from acknowledging that these can be tinted socialist programs. We prefer to believe they exist by virtue of our individual efforts. My conversationalist related the theft of his vehicle a couple of decades ago and his futile efforts to get someone prosecuted for the crime. He unleashed a litany of grievances which he predicted was accomplished by “friends” of mine. I told him “maybe acquaintances” but that I hoped I had no friends who’d practice such deceit. Finally, I asked for a name or two and understood when he 'id’ed' apparent culprits. I knew some but wouldn’t claim them to be coffee drinking or, in an earlier day, golf playing buddies. While proclaiming one political party righteous and another ‘infidel’ might sooth a feeling, ideology has little to do with power. It’s opportunity plus and a few other ingredients over which a realistic evaluation might explain. Like my old university textbook said. “Politicians are like ships passing in the night. They can change courses and you hardly know it.” It brought to my remembrance a high school student government campaign. I was asked to observe during my time as an elected representative. One of the candidates appealed to his classmates promising to get an extra holiday in the spring plus milk shakes for every person if he was elected. Of course, his peers knew he was ‘hyping’, but I have thought about the example. He learned his spiel from somewhere. Did he craft his message from observing office seekers selling ‘pie in the sky’? Perhaps. I can’t recall if the person was successful or not. There was no special holiday and the Dairy Queen didn’t provide free milk shakes. If you analyze messages directed toward voters (now and in the past and God forbid, the future), you’ll probably concur that it’s easy to ‘pull the wool’ over a susceptible public. Think about the national office seekers’ promises of re-creating jobs in dying industries of desolate regions or buying into the power struggle that “somebody is fighting for me”. Claiming that a candidate who hardly knows whether Jesus died on the cross or was killed at Bunker Hill is anointed to exact Holy Decrees is a stretch even for my imagination. And we wonder why our traditional organized religious bodies are losing attendance. I submit God-fearing folks don’t have to flag their so-called virtues. Those around can evaluate for themselves.

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