I’ve been thinking how we’ve become a nation of craven individuals crowding together and trying to blend into the massive grayness of anonymity, a nation of grays. We hide our real opinions in the face of those who speak the loudest. We shrink back from what we know is true subjecting our opinion to the voice of the media as if it is the impartial arbiter of good and evil and does not have an agenda. We take good people and throw them to the mob in order to hide our own foibles knowing deep down we are in many ways just like the people we point a disdaining fingers at. We have forgotten that it was not the grays who gave us this great country.
You know the founders of our nation who we call the Founding Fathers (with the backing of their women folk) really stuck their necks out. Back in those days when you went up against a king you were playing for keeps. When they signed that document stating “we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” they weren’t speaking figuratively. They were actually putting their lives and money on the line. If they lost, they knew they probably would be hung, their estates confiscated, and their families impoverished. And by the way, their cause was not that popular. It is estimated that at times less than 20% of the people supported them.
These men and women who set about to create a better nation had what we kids called: guts. That term applied to the kid who stood up when others would have run away. These kids weren’t necessarily the toughest or best fighters, often they were remarkably just like the rest of us ordinaries, but in times of need they didn’t shrink away but stood their ground. We’d say in admiration, “he (or she) got guts”.
The Whitey Bulger saga shows how few we could say “got guts.” Certainly shooting some unarmed person in the back of the head doesn’t show that. Whitey at times seemed to have them but at others it seems questionable. Maybe that is true of all those people with guts. In some situations they stand tall but in others they become like the rest of us part of the great grayness.
Ruminating on this over this holiday weekend I decided when I find an instance where someone stands out from the grayness I’ll nominate that person for the “Got Guts” award which will be given out on occasion. I also thought I should have nominations for a “Gone Gray” award which I would give to people who showed a particular lack of character by mindlessly following what the people who write newspapers suggest or demand, a common folly especially by those who read the Gray Lady and its child in Boston.
Tomorrow I will make my first nominations. These will be given to people in what is commonly referred to as the community of hacks. These are people who work on the public payroll. The grays believe it is chic to look down on these people as some sort of inferiors.
Having been one of them I believe that is the proper starting ground. I knew I was a hack having been chastised for not contributing to the gross national product as if that was all that mattered in life. It is assumed that all the hacks are incompetent and received their jobs through patronage. The former is incorrect but the latter may be true with respect to many.
Our Founding Fathers devised this system that necessitates patronage. If people are to be elected to office it cannot be avoided. It is practiced from the highest level to the local town office. People give jobs to their friends or people who have helped them get elected. We’ve see it at the national level where President Obama appointed as Attorney General his friend Eric Holder; we saw it when President Kennedy appointed his brother Bobby to the same position.
It happens every time a new person is elected president. At one time the busiest time of the year in our nation’s capital was inauguration day and the weeks that followed. Office seekers flocked there seeking jobs in the new administration carrying letters recommending they be hired because they knew one politician or another.
Politicians need to have help and money. Those who give it go to the front of the line when it comes to handing out jobs. When Sheldon Adelson is looking to get a friend’s kid an internship I don’t think there will be many Republican, or Democrats for that matter, who would not rush to please him. Patronage is as American as the Fourth of July parades.
It’s ironic though it is often suggested by the media that patronage is evil. We are supposed to accept the idea that Candidate X must not try to help Johnny get a job when a position is open because Johnny worked very hard for her over the many months it took for her to win office. We’re expected to believe that Candidate X should hire George who worked for her opponent, or someone who she didn’t know. The idea being that we have immaculate elections where the candidate without lifting a finger or depending on another person is magically thrust into office as a free being.
Tomorrow I will make my first nominations from those involved in the patronage business.