Thursday, May 23, 2013
On primary Election Day I talked on the radio for seven hours, excitedly commenting about regional politics and the severe impact that candidates who win will have on the quality of our lives. As the May 21 election drew near, I spent days talking about nothing but local politics. Not once during my daily four hour show did I run out of information to share, news to break or reasons to fight the power.
But voter turnout Tuesday was dismal.
People didn’t care.
They really didn’t care.
I believe people do care about their lives and the quality of their communities. It’s just that people have lost faith in political candidates who seem mostly to be about political business as usual. And, in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the business as usual politics we know so well has helped maim the public trust.
Public trust survives with the weakest civic heartbeat.
Yet, if we refuse to give in to the powerbrokers who have grown so used to getting their way, we can one day swing through the political jungle like Tarzan out to rescue the losers and the lost. As long as we bend to the power rather than rising to fight the powers that be, we remain the losers and the lost.
They win. They control. They benefit. They laugh all the way to their next elected office.
I understand the frustration. In hard coal country, giving up is sometimes even viewed as victory rather than defeat. Some people believe they win when they refuse to dignify the sewer of politics by participating in any way.
I urge you to join me in jumping into the muck.
Politics never fixes itself.
Left to its’ own hysterical devices, the sewer gets worse and the rats that cavort among the flotsam carry a perpetual disease that spreads germs of toxic cultural destruction. That sounds gross because the process of fighting back is gross.
I fight the rats because I will not be ruled by rats.
So now I’m offering you a job with the biggest pest extermination company in the land – a powerful start-up company run by the people for the people.
We must volunteer to step willingly into the muck together, battling until the end. Even if we never prevail in our lifetimes, we must take our victories wherever and whenever we find them,
On Tuesday, believe it or not, we found a few.
Kathy Dobash, of Hazleton, won a Republican nomination to run in November’s election for a seat on the Luzerne County Council. Dobash lost in her previous bid yet never wavered in her commitment to do whatever she can to hold public officials to the same standard of accountability that she holds herself.
Dobash has little money and little power in her life. Yet she campaigned by bringing honor to a field of dishonor and emerged victorious. I wish her well in her continuing mission to fight political corruption, government waste and political abuse. People such as Dobash can help lessen the impact of nepotism, cronyism and patronage – breeding grounds for the culture of corruption.
Up north in my Scranton hometown, 23-year-old Robert Casey emerged as the high vote getter in the Democratic primary race for Scranton School Board. The political newcomer is finishing up a college degree and works in customer service at the Gerrity’s Supermarket on Meadow Avenue.
Casey, who’s no relation to the local Casey political dynasty, helped dump longtime school director and political leech Bob Lesh.
Guided by his dad of the same name, a former Scranton school director himself, the kid came out of nowhere. I admit that I didn’t vote for Casey because I didn’t know anything about him. But the young man has already taught me a lesson.
A few days before the election, while standing in the check-out line, I spotted young Casey on duty in Gerrity’s. Walking at a brisk pace with that smiling Irish mug on him, he suddenly stopped in mid-step, stooped and scooped up a piece of paper that some slob had dropped on the floor. In one smooth, continuing motion the kid flipped the trash into the garbage can. The grin never left his face.
Other workers would have either not noticed or avoided the job.
But Casey was paying attention.
Casey’s clean sweep stands as an innocently simple, yet stunning, example of the best that must be yet to come.
Dobash and Casey have inspired me to keep punching. You, too, should be ready for the sound of the bell and the opportunity to step into the center of the ring.
Nobody can beat you as long as you’re willing to fight one more round.