On Civic Duty and “Trained Monkeys”

We slave away in grassroots committees, studying the issues, discussing the issues and personalities in politics, discussing and devising strategies and tactics to effect an outcome we think is right, writing and rewriting party platforms and position papers.

We serve on campaign committees. We do all the grunt work. We man the phones, walk the precincts, talk to people through the screen doors who look like we are trying to assault them. We place signs and posters wherever we get permission to leave them. We stuff envelopes and door hangers, sell raffle tickets and buy those we can’t sell. We write letters and e-mails, we button-hole candidates and office holders.

We go to meetings of city councils, county commissions, boards of this and that, and the legislature’s many committees on this and that, to voice our concerns, offer solutions, and oppose or support whatever they may decide to do.

We provide the bulk of humanity at rallies, we shake our signs, we yell till we’re hoarse.

We’re old and creaky but we still do all this out of a “sense of duty,” to “give back,” to “do the right thing,” or “for the children;” in gratitude for the freedom we enjoyed and many of us fought for in war, so we can preserve and pass it on.

We actually believe Thomas Jefferson (or whoever), the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

We actually believe John Kennedy, Ask not what your country can do for you…

We actually believe Ronald Reagan: Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected and handed on for them to do the same.

We serve without pay; in fact, we donate money we can’t afford to candidates we think are on our side and to causes we think are the right ones for the community and the country.

And what do we get for all this?

We see candidates succeed or fail and issues flare up or die for mysterious reasons, when all indications we see are to the contrary. No, it’s not just wishful thinking, getting caught up in the moment, believing our own rhetoric, or self-flagellation and remorse that we haven’t done enough.

No, once in a while somebody “lets the cat out of the bag” and tells how it really is.

So we think that everything we do actually matters? Well, guess what? We are just “trained monkeys with delusions of self importance.” The real power is in the shadows. The people who “pull the strings” operate in the shadows, they pick the candidates and the issues, and decide which one succeeds or fails. We are just “trained monkeys with delusions of self importance.”

None of us have ambitions for fame, power, or political office, but WE are just “trained monkeys with delusions of self importance.”

Yes, we are so important that the aristocrats in the shadows, even those who benefit from our efforts, do not bother to come to our meetings. They avoid mingling with the riff-raff by holding $1000 or $10,000 or $32,500 a plate fundraiser and victory parties.

Think about it.

Then think about reports on races where the loser was close and would have won — if only someone had poured just a little more money in at the end.

Think about what this says about the people who vote. THEY care so much that they won’t go vote unless somebody bombards them with endless repetition of some manipulative distortion of the facts and issues. THEY won’t vote for your side unless they hear nothing but your side. THEY will be swayed by whoever spends more to cajole and harangue them.

Think about what this says about the media and others involved in a campaign. THEY will do nothing unless they get PAID. You want to place an ad? You have to get it written, produced, placed and run, for PAY. You need a campaign manager? You have to hire one, for PAY. You want to see how your campaign is doing? You have to hire a pollster, for PAY.

Where is THEIR sense of civic duty, for “the good of the country”? Do they even offer a discount, out of their sense of civic duty? Hell no.

The help wanted ads, at least in places like San Francisco, actually offer to pay hourly wages for “activists” and “volunteers” to serve on campaigns, especially campaigns for causes, to collect signatures for petitions, etc.

WE do that for free. WE volunteer our time and money. But WE are the “trained monkeys with delusions of self importance.”

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