Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Once Upon A Whistle Stop...

I wasn't alive prior to the sixties but I think I’d prefer the late eighteen hundred to early nineteen hundred period of ’American style’ political campaigning over the current 'modern' version. Back then, the personal appearances made by decent political contenders were thoughtfully well spaced out, beautifully brief and considerately far and few between. One of the most important times was when candidate came to town on an actual train.
The true, old fashioned whistle stop method was practical, purposeful and probably most economical too. It was a chance to get out and meet the public, to press the flesh, to see and be seen, and yes, maybe even kiss a few babies. Some candidates didn’t even stop in every single town, but slowed down quite a bit when approaching the more sparsely populated villages, content with just waving from the rear platform of the final car at those prospective future constituents, fully assured that as news of their actions of merit, superior intelligence and personable strength spread, they would get your winning vote.

Politicians don’t have that kind of confidence anymore. It seems they have all developed low self esteem issues and now they need to come at you all over again within moments of you casting your final winning vote. Each candidate insists you be inoculated, inundated and totally saturated with them and their opinions, afraid to let you have a moment’s peace, lest you forget about them. The plotting, maneuvers and mudslinging must begin again in earnest, at full force, even if that election for the post of ‘whatever’ won’t actually be held again for another four years.

No longer is a coal fired locomotive engine required, now money and media drive the political monster. In modern times, it takes boatloads of both to keep a guy (or girl, for that matter), in the public eye, and ear 24/7. Buying that kind of total media saturation required through television, radio, cable, Internet and press exposure it takes BIG money known in the ‘biz’ as the campaign ‘war chest’. The higher the office, the bigger that war chest fund must be. Some of them, amount to millions and millions of dollars. I won’t bore you here, with a list of these ongoing, outgoing campaign expenses… Heck, I’m not running for office so you can trust me when I say, it’s a massive list. The fund raising drives for donations and campaign contributions must start early and continue ceaselessly if the candidate has even a slim hope of winning, to cover all those ongoing expenses which only get bigger, the further up the political ladder you try to go.

As a result, we now have people running for office, all year long, year in, year out. It would be unheard of to allow themselves (or us), a well deserved break from campaigning. Strange enough most of those who actually do get elected, and make it to that shiny, new desk, seem to decide that then, is the best time, to go on some sort of vacation….Once in office, they never seem to have the same intense drive and dogged determination to do as well for all of us, (their once valuable constituents), the voters….as they did for themselves.

Yes, I think I’d rather like the old way, with the candidates waving at me from a distant train. Only speaking at certain whistle stops, where reporters could quote the wise, witty and encouraging things they’d say. I think maybe they were actually smarter then, back when they knew that too much of anything actually lessens the demand for it. That supply and demand ‘rules’ work… even in politics and that flooding the market with something, (even themselves) tends to reduce its value. This new breed of needy, greedy, media driven politicians could use a lesson or two there.