American Elephants


Sorry! Your Politician Does Not Care About You. by The Elephant's Child

The exit polling from the 2012 election showed clearly that people voted for Barack Obama because they believed that “He cares about people like me.” This was closely related to Hurricane Sandy, and I believe the picture of President Obama comforting Donna Vanzant who had just seen her marina totally destroyed, influenced a lot of people. Mr. Obama promised her prompt help from FEMA and that he would make it all better. But she never heard from FEMA, nor from the President, or anybody else.
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The picture, however, went viral.

I hate to bring you bad news, but politicians do not care about you. The better ones care about “the people” in general, but generous donors in particular. They care about the big businesses in their districts, influential people in their party and in the opposition, but we ordinary folk are, at best, merely a statistic. They care about those who are important for some reason, particularly those who have given campaign contributions or are clearly in a position to make a donation, or are important enough to influence others.

Maybe, if you are an activist who seems to have a large number of voters behind you. I know, I know. We’d all like to believe that those in whom we invest so much hope really mean it. You could design an embossed letterhead suggesting that you are an officer in an organization for (or against) your politician’s favorite issues, that might get some attention. Phone calls, at least allow you to talk to a human, however lowly. Visit his/her office in your district with your request or complaint, but sugar catches more flies than vinegar.

It’s nothing personal. They have their big donors and all the members of their delegation, the press (local and national) the members of the committees on which they serve, their opposition, and all the members of the House or the Senate as the case may be to worry about. They don’t know you from Adam, expecting attention is futile. The idea that “I voted for you” and now I expect, at the least, a response to my email, is also futile. Going to every town hall meeting held in your district might improve the situation slightly, but don’t bet on it. They shake a lot of hands, and remember few.

But, your opinions may be tabulated (or not). They need feedback, but there’s no guarantee they will pay attention. But if  you are well-informed and your call or email or letter is short and to the point, it may get through. Even volunteering in their campaign may not help. Your chances are better if your expectations are low, and your determination is very high.



What Is The Impulse To Go Join A Riot? by The Elephant's Child
August 20, 2014, 7:05 pm
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Law, News, Politics, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

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I understand why journalists flock to a town like Ferguson, Missouri. There’s a famous old saying “If it bleeds it leads,” and even more if there is the possibility of interesting interviews and especially good photographs or videos. But why do ordinary people flock to a riot?

Fox News correspondent Steve Harrigan reported from Ferguson that seventy-eight protesters were arrested during last night’s clash between the police and the protesters. Only three of those arrested were actually from the town of Ferguson. A lot came from the state of Missouri, but some came from as far away as New York and California. There were some concerns that rioters were using the demonstrations as a cover to launch attacks against police.

I understand the people who are there, those who feel personally harmed demonstrating and the demonstration turning to riot. Unfortunate, but it happens.

I don’t get it. What is the impulse that sends someone from some distance away to go and join in a riot? Is it the possibility of looting?  The possibility of attacking the police? It is surely obvious that you can get hurt at a riot, at best. Do they just think it will be fun?

Al Jazeera reports that the Islamic State has recruited 6,000 people in the last month, and the recruitment push is gathering pace. They claim the number of fighters is now over 80,000 in Iraq and Syria (totally unverified numbers). Let’s all go kill infidels. Behead infidels, execute those who have different beliefs. Is this the same impulse? Drawn to danger and chaos?

Is it a matter of getting all emotional, all fired-up, indignant over what you have heard? When we had the WTO riots here in Seattle, lots of broken windows, trash cans set on fire, and groups of anarchists appeared from somewhere else to join in the fun. People uninvolved in the Occupy movement rushed to join in the fun at their various riots.

I would understand defending your home or your community from an outside threat, but I don’t get rushing to join a riot, or even a demonstration in which you have no personal involvement. People also rush to go see a catastrophe. Stop on the highway to see the accident (when it’s clear they don’t need help, but just want to see).

We should be instructing our children when they are young, never to go to a riot. Riots are not always peaceful, and sometimes people get killed.




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