In general, my personal working definition of local politics is “that thing that happens when some geezer gets really worked up over that new stop sign” or, alternatively, “a way to get a series of all-expense-paid, albeit slow, rides through town in a nice car on public holidays.” This is probably because I have consistently lived in cities and towns too small to merit a tactical nuclear strike should we get into a dust-up with the Russians. There just isn’t much to do here. By extension, there isn’t much for the local politicians to do – leaving, of course, the Russians with very little to nuke.
One fellow, however, apparently didn’t get that particular memo.
If the opening paragraph failed to convey this, let me do so now – it takes a lot to get me to care about mayoral campaigns, as I can usually define the outcome in a simple mathematical expression: new mayor = +/- one (1) stop sign.
Thus, having established myself as a terrible citizen – as if there was some doubt before now – it is a rare man who runs for mayor who can get me to not only listen to his televised remarks but then pore over the subsequent news agency transcript to confirm that I have, in fact, heard what I think I heard. It is my hope a few highlights will clarify my incredulity…and perhaps inspire others. And yes, before we go any further, these are word-for-word quotes.
News agency question 1: Why do you want to be mayor?
Candidate answer: “If a community is equal as it grows, all prosper. If we have good city services and schools, then children do not burn in a fire, then each family can have a home, then we can all prosper together.”
Rampage commentary: Pro tip – if your campaign promises read like vague threats – e.g., elect me so then children do not burn in a fire – it might be time to reevaluate your platform and possibly your relationship with your attorney. More baffling is, bold text removed, the above sentence started and finished as a perfectly nominal, if somewhat more empty than usual, bit of campaign speak. Would-be mayoral candidates take note: Successful candidates frequently follow up references to children with phrases like “are our future” or “need to be protected.” Less successful candidates tend to go with “drown with startling regularity” or, I don’t know, “burn in a fire.”
Though, in his defense, he does have a point. Flaming children would be a serious obstacle to a) owning a home and b) prospering together. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live next door to the guy whose kid belongs on the Fantastic 4.
News agency question 2: What experience do you have that makes you qualified to be mayor?
Candidate answer: “High School student council President, I learned that you delegate projects as much as you can then do the rest yourself. A lifetime of working on issues like transit recycling solar insulation gardens jobs with good wages.”
Rampage commentary: Did you just imply that, if elected mayor, you would delegate all the work you possibly can? (Also, all great politicians should draw their major qualifications from their high school extracurricular activities.) And what, precisely, is the “transit recycling solar insulation gardens jobs with good wages” issue aside from the biggest adjectival cluster!@#$ I have ever witnessed?
News agency question 3: What will be your top three priorities for the city if you’re elected mayor?
Candidate answer (a): “Education; Inventory seniors on skills and knowledge for mentoring, present the senior resource list to all teachers, involve students with smartphone videoconferencing between seniors and teachers.“
Rampage commentary (a): Wait – you’re assuming that senior citizens can operate smartphones…and video conference with them? Yeah, I’m sure that’s why Jitterbug is still in business.
Candidate answer (b): “Teaching everybody including kids how to make a quick and complete 911 call.”
Rampage commentary (b): Presumably so then children do not burn in a fire.
Candidate answer (c): “A program to sew reflective tape on kids’ winter jackets.”
Rampage commentary (c): In the United States of America, snow plows run down an average of twenty children a minute.*
*Presumably the rest burn in a fire.**
**Presumably, if we elect this fellow mayor, then children do not burn in a fire.
News agency question 4: Tell us about your family.
Candidate answer: “[Name withheld] is my girlfriend and political editor and best friend, we all spend a lot of time at the park and the forest, I hope to make her my wife.”
Rampage commentary: If I were her, I’d be making a quick and complete 911 call.