I’m going to talk about the Primary election. However, I’m going to talk about it on a local scale and how it was a microcosm of what occurred in Georgia a couple weeks ago. Look, I come from a small county. We saw what a waning influence certain political camps now have. Where I come from, we have a Jonestown-esque situation where the employees and devotees of an elected official have not only drank but have drowned in the damn Kool-Aid. For a long time, this camp (I think I will call it Jonestown from here on out) has carried a hell of a lot of influence in the community. Since the last election cycle, more people, myself included, have become disenchanted. Jonestown in particular appeared to have hand-picked three candidates for each of the three contested local races. One of their candidates lost by less than 10 votes (don’t ever tell me your vote doesn’t count), one is heading to a runoff, and the last of their candidates was beat by nearly 1000 votes. I think after this, it was obvious that Jonestown was weakening. It is very similar to how much Donald Trump’s endorsement in Georgia’s races didn’t really carry a lot of weight. Jonestown’s endorsements and influence seem to be an obvious form of “cushioning” to keep the apple cart from getting upset. Well, if someone is so concerned about upsetting the Apple cart then I believe that apple cart better damn well be upset. And then comes the follow-up question: what are you so concerned about being found out? Maybe that concern is a red flag that we need to take a look under the hood. So what do you do when you realize everyone isn’t snowed anymore? Let’s do a minor backstory as to how we got here.
My family has been in my community for generations. At one point my family has been the “establishment” and then has fought the “establishment” which was also once the anti-establishment/new regime. This becomes a never-ending cycle of establishments. There are some “establishment” politicians that I think were and are effective. Labeling them as “establishment” just isn’t fair. (Can any of you actually tell me what establishment is? Honestly.) There are also some politicians who are considered “anti-establishment” that I think are utter lunatics and anarchists. I think it’s time we start labeling these people something different. I prefer terms like competent or incompetent, strategic or inept, good or bad, smart or dumb, corrupt or effective. One thing that I have learned is that just because a new regime takes over doesn’t mean it’s a better regime. (You know the adage about “the grass is greener”). The 2020 election cycle was brutal for everyone. It was especially brutal in my community where it seemed that everyone’s dirty laundry got aired. There was so much infighting it was honestly a bloodbath. However, one thing that was interesting is people’s colors were shown and it was definitely a concrete marker that the current regime a/k/a Jonestown was officially “the establishment”. They were officially the good ole boys. Just a few terms earlier, Jonestown was the new regime that had just won against a good ole boy that had been in office nearly 30 years. And now they were trying to get their man in as commission chairman because they were not getting what they wanted out of the current one (he had been in nearly 4 terms). I probably don’t even have to say this, but it all had to do with money and they weren’t getting what they wanted even after they were over budget 4 months into the fiscal year, but I digress.
So, Jonestown huffed and puffed and convinced everyone that the old commissioner had been in there too long and we needed a change. They touted their shiny new change with aesthetically pleasing billboards, ads, and events. All of this was the kind of professional campaign my hometown had never seen before. It worked. If anyone tells you that advertising doesn’t work, I will gladly argue with them why it does. So, the sheep voted the commissioner in. Within the first year, the new commissioner was already over budget, didn’t hold up to promises, made some of the most politically inept decisions I’ve ever seen, and showed that he didn’t have a real clue on how to effectively lead. No real, meaningful projects were getting done but exorbitant amounts of money were shelled out to make everything look shiny and new.
This isn’t to say that a politician can be in office too long, I do believe that can be the case. It’s not that they are bad, they just aren’t with the times and it is helpful to have fresh eyes in that office. However, I don’t think that you should vote someone out Just because they have been there a while. Sometimes people serve a real purpose. In my community’s case, the old commissioner was incredibly fiscally responsible. Our county literally had no debt which is unheard of. There was always some kind of meaningful project going on to help improve people’s lives. And while the old commissioner wasn’t perfect, he kept things running well and we were in good shape financially. In the words of Bert Lance, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sometimes the “fix” is a part made in China and is worse than the worn-out part you just replaced.
A good commissioner is like a good parent. Each county department is like a different child with its own needs, quirks, and functions. A good commissioner will say “no” when ridiculous requests come in. Jonestown became like a rebellious, arrogant teenager and instead of trying to work within the confines set forth, they bullied the parent out of the house and got the babysitter who wanted to be well-liked to run the show.
Now going back to where we started. Jonestown’s candidates didn’t do so hot. Some of Jonestown’s buddies have recently gone down in flames and it has made the community question a LOT of things. And so, Jonestown now finds itself in the throes of the beginning of the sundown that their predecessor was once in and the man they pushed out was in. A new regime will start to form to do to them what they did to the old guard. However, it remains to be seen if they will go out as quietly and gracefully as the ones before them. For a long time, they had a lot of snow. Now it seems like they have themselves snowed with their own horsesh*t. Whatever allows you to live with yourself I guess, go for it. A lot of people have kissed the rear end of Jonestown and still are kissing it. They want to be in good with Jonestown because, for a long time, the cool thing to do was to be in Jonestown, drinking the Kool-Aid. There are still a lot of people who feel that is so. If that makes them feel relevant and cool, go for it. To me, that seems like sitting at the cool kid’s table at a correctional facility. But, you do you.
Donald Trump has had his own Jonestown and his influence seems like it is beginning to fade. It happens to the best of us honestly. Every dog has its day and that day comes to an end eventually. The lesson in all of this is you can’t rely on the endorsement and merit of others to win. You need to be able to rely on your own merit, otherwise, you are wasting your time running for office. If you are relying on the influence of someone else, then if you fail, they also fail. If you are running on your own merit, if you fail, you fall on your own sword. And, if you are in the business of influencing and are mad your pony didn’t win or the job they are doing is complete ass, then maybe you need to learn to stay in your own lane and just do your own damn job. If you are doing your job and doing it well, then you don’t need to worry about having a pony to continue to haul your cart of apples. Tuesday showed us on multiple fronts that influence isn’t everything.