Of The Day
But, sometimes not every day.
today's date, back in 1775, Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give
me liberty, or give me death!" speech at the Virginia Provencial
Convention (pictured to the right in the P.H. Rothermel oil painting).
Just a year short of the 225th annversary of that great speech
calling for independence, American politics is on the brink of
falling under the domination of another insidious tyrant: boring
people in government. As the flambouyant LBJ fades into the dust
bin of history, along with all of his entertaining cronies, we
are now standing before a canvas painted all shades of gray.
Al Gore. Liddy Dole. Lamar Alexander. George Bush, Jr. And that
is on the national scene. When you look at the states, and their
legislatures, you see an even more boring palette emerge. You
might say that Jesse Ventura, Governor of Minnesota, breaks the
mold, but the truth is that from Pete Wilson of California to
Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts, Jesse stands out as the exception,
far from the rule, to armies of charcoal gray suits and men and
women of all-business and very little humor. It may be a sign
of our times. Today, entry into government, especially electoral
politics, is the occasion for extremely close scrutiny of candidates'
backgrounds. Drugs, sex, and rock and roll, lurking under the
covers almost always eliminates some from even standing for election,
let alone running. Mario Cuomo. Colin Powell. The result is now
becoming clear. Boring people,
who have no background (and probably no real life before election)
making the laws that bind and clog our lives. The reason that
Clinton is still so popular (although I predict a precipitous
decline from here on in) is that he was certainly entertaining.
His peccadilloes and shenanigans made us all laugh, spawned an
entertainment industry, and sold newspapers and talk show commercials
by the bushel-full. More people watched Monica's interview than
the Superbowl. But day in and day out, American investigatory
politics is attracting the minutely uninfected who toss their
hats into the ring almost unnoticed and surely without excitment.
And so, "the ring" becomes less and less interesting.
Great ambition, like great artistry, takes great ego. But politics
today is becoming more and more a job, not a career. State legislators
make in the $50,000 to $100,000 range around the country, so
it's a good week's pay. Making laws is becoming like making the
donuts. It's a product, you work eight hours and go home. Two
weeks vacation, holidays are paid, and you get an expense account.
Controversy must be avoided, consensus is the way to go. Leadership?
So where will the passion of a Patrick Henry come from when we need it? Hmmm. Pass me the TV Guide, there must be something on. It can't just be all reruns.