Bad Things Happen When Nobody Pays Attention

We’re excited to move into the White House next year.

Our recent in-house (quite literally) poll shows we’ve got at least three votes, with a fourth voter on the fence.

Those votes weren’t bought with the promise of free stuff. We didn’t hand out money or door prizes at our campaign rallies. And our campaign ads don’t tell a single lie… and never will.

In fact, we freely admit we’ll anger a lot of folks when we unpack our briefcase in the Oval Office.

But we figure that means we’ve got more honest votes than any other candidate… so we’re a shoo-in.

We the People Appointed

We went on a bit of a political practice run last week. We showed up at a meeting of our local planning commission.

What happened that night is a story worth telling… especially for folks who capitalize the first letter of Liberty.

We came to the meeting because we got word the group was aiming to quietly pass a strict, new ordinance. It was trying to get ahead of a problem that doesn’t yet exist… and likely never will.

But commissions must commission.

Planners must plan.

And thieves must always thieve.

What good, after all, would a commission be if it opened its mandated monthly meeting, said all is well, and went home and climbed in bed?

Surely they can scratch their heads and think of something to do… some problem they can solve.

So the meeting came to order, and the poor townspeople lined up with their hats in hand.

“Sir,” they said, “Mayeth I build a shed oneth my land?”

“Do you have blueprints for the shed?” they asked.

“Sir,” another begged, “Mayeth I sell my land to ye neighbor?”

“Is it a parcel or a tract?” they queried.

“Sir,” they cried, “But my plan hath been approved by thy royal engineer, thy zoning officer, thy divine county seat, and all my permits and fees have cost me a week’s pay.”

“That’s okay,” the committee retorted. “Two more meetings and you can have that tree house.”

We thought about building a boat and sailing to a far-off land to start anew.

We wept for all the boys who died fighting for our freedom.

But then a man approached the commissioner with a stack of blueprints under his arm. He had five of them… just as the regulation stated.

Inconsequential but Unavoidable

“I’m asking for final approval,” he said.

The commissioners looked at each other with confused glances.

“You were here last October, right?” said the appointed leader of the bunch.

“July,” the patient man retorted. “You rejected my plan because it was missing a few small things.”

“Hmmm,” said the potbellied spokesman. “I think I remember that. They were inconsequential, if I recall. Did you fix them?”

“Yes, sir,” said the poor citizen, hopefully lying.

“Okay, then. Approved.”

The table snorted, grabbed their pens and signed the paperwork.

The tiny project to build a shed… that was held up for months… by inconsequential issues… was approved.

Well, it will be… after the poor sap brings his now-signed plans to the supervisor’s meeting next week.

This meeting, it turns out, was just the first step. The planning commission, we found out, doesn’t have any real power.

But we bet they’re planning to.

And so it went throughout the evening. Three more folks laid their lives and livelihoods on the table. The planners scratched their heads, debated what they were seeing, thumbed through the inch-thick book of ordinances and scratched their heads again trying to figure it all out.

Clearly, the planners that came before them didn’t plan on such complex issues as to whether to allow a farmer to sell a pasture to his neighbor.

Why would they? Few citizens are willing to turn off the politics on TV to fight the politics in their own backyard.

But then came the night’s main event.

Participation Politics

There was no ring girl prancing around upfront – just the potbellied man clearing his throat and finally turning an eye toward us and the few other concerned citizens who got word of what was up.

“I bet I know what you’re here for,” he said. “But let me start by saying the best thing to do in situations like this is to write a letter.”

With that, his grumpy cohort raised his hand, cited an obscure rule and closed the discussion with the public.

The color returned to the face of the committee. They were off the hook.

They didn’t have to hear from the people. They didn’t have to learn of their consequences. All they had to do was open the mail and thumb through a few letters.

But we’re not dumb. We know what was going through their collective minds as the motion carried.

“Fools,” they thought. “We can’t even read.”

Vote for Andy.

Note: The best way to put pressure on your local lawmakers is by attending meetings and simply showing officials that you’re paying attention. But that’s not always possible. The next best thing is to log on to your local government’s website and read the minutes from the latest meetings. It’s easy, quick and ensures you’re involved in the most important level of government. Bad things happen when nobody pays attention.

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