My political career is over. Finis. Kaput. Toast. Adiós.
I know we haven’t talked much about politics (of the local East Texas backwoods type) for a good while.
But the short version of recent events here is that Anderson County Texas does not require heavy trucks operating on poorly maintained county roads to post a damage bond. If the roads get wrecked, it’s the local residents who get screwed. Not the trucking operator.
When some local land owners decided to let a gravel mining operator come in, the 2.4 miles of oil-sand road that had previously been in reasonable shape, was trashed in short order.
The county didn’t want to do anything about it.
A bunch of us local people went down to the Commissioner’s Court (which would be a county commission meeting anywhere else) late last year and spoke our piece about the nuisance the gravel pit operator was causing. Tearing up the roads was the gist of it, with a side-order of being run off the road reported by other, speeding, and the usual.
Eventually, the operator moved on, but the road involved was completely trashed. And in response, the county judge (which anywhere else would be the county executive) then purported told one of the local disenchanted people who’d shown up to complain that we’d “have to sign a petition…”
It was clearly the classic political bullshit that you run into when the fix is in and the politicians don’t want to do anything: Almost a dozen people show up, a huge number in politics in a county of this size and on a work day. But instead of getting off their lazy butts and doing anything, they “papered” us back by asking for a petition. If it’s not on paper with the political class, it didn’t happen.
This is Obama-like. It is also, unfortunately, typical of how career politicians work: Give them an office and they’ll start making-up laws off the top of their heads. There is no petition process in county law and there are a large number of our neighbors who have much less confidence in local government now that we have seen how it doesn’t work.
So I stepped up and filed – back in December – to run for County Commissioner in District 3. I was full of fire and brimstone wanting to change that.
The fellow I was planning to run against is a republican and, in this part of Texas, that meant he would get 100% of the vote, since no one was running as a democrat. Time was too short to mount a democratic campaign. So I decided “What the hell…I’ll run as an independent.”
Up until the March primary it looked like it might be feasible. But since then, two things have happened.
First, I read up on state election laws. In order to make it to the ballot, as an independent, I would have to collect signatures (143 seemed to be the number) of people who didn’t vote in the March primary.
Key point of Texas election laws: The two (corporate) party system is not designed to encourage democratic processes. In order to run as an independent, you need to get 5% of the number of people who voted in the last gubernatorial (2014) – which is where the 143 came from.
But as I got deeper into it, seemed like the corporate duopoly has set things up to make running as an independent nearly impossible.
Here’s why: My original plan had been to crank up the laser, the high-powered database tools, and simply mail these people who didn’t vote a personal letter and ask them a simple question: “Do the roads around here suck?” If your answer is “Yes” – here’s something you can do about it…”
And then instruct people to send in their signature. That ought to work, since the signatures would all be checked by county official.
No. It doesn’t work that way.
Some called a “circulator” has to read this notice at the top of the form, out loud, to everyone who is eligible to sign – before they sign in.
This is how the R’s and D;s screw interested and independent-thinking people out of almost any chance of winning. If you can’t find enough people – who were too damn lazy to vote in the first place, and then personally “read ‘em in” and then swear and affidavit to that effect, the signatures aren’t valid.
I called the Secretary of State’s office and was told, in so many words by a staff attorney, “Too bad. That’s the state law. If you don’t like it, change the state law.”
I was going to explain about Kafka’s book The Prisoner, but it seemed pointless. The fact is that in Texas, the deck has been almost totally stacked against anyone with an outside point of view.
Even at this, it still looked like there might be a statistical chance of winning. Because I would have had the “hit list” of non-voters by about today, that would give me time between the results and data being available (today roughly) to go out and find people. I figured if I could visit 2-people per day for 90 days (which would be 180 signatures, which would seem like it met the test) I’d be on the ballot for the November general.
While it would be no fun whatsoever, it still looked doable. But I was wrong because…
Then the Second Thing happened: There is a run-off election coming up.
The way the timing of this will work out, I can’t work from the pool of people who didn’t vote in the primary. I also couldn’t work people who didn’t vote in the run-off.
Oh, and instead of about 90-days to collect signatures, we would be lucky to have 30 days. And that would put the math at meeting and signing up 6-people per day, and that is not especially practical.
And that’s simply not workable.
I’m a writer/researcher/author (who is supposed to be retired) and when I am not doing that or being interviewed, or keeping 29 acres of land (more or less) under control, I have our portfolio to manage and that involves sitting in front of a computer.
In addition to running on a simple platform of fixing a road once paved turned into a washboard gravel and dirt experiment, I also wanted to help the county put more issues before people online. Why not online voting, for example. I mean, that’s where we have to go to save the (screwed up system) from imploding, right?
Short of a famous country-western artist volunteering to do a District 3 concert – where admission will be limited to those who can sign the petition – the odds of me going any further with this project have fallen very close to zero.
The political parties don’t want their lock on power challenged. And to make sure upstart free-thinkers don’t come along, they place onerous rules on their citizens that prevent free expression and widespread participation. By doing so, they prevent competition, and prolong their turn at the public trough.
Elaine and I are thoroughly disgusted.
Elaine, by the way wants a new Lexus – and I’ve offered to buy her one. But she refuses to drive it on crappy roads. “It’d be like throwing away $45,000,” she explained.
She’s so upset that she’s started the paperwork to get a V.A. loan and go house shopping – in another state. (Did I mention she came out of her Army stint as a sergeant?)
I patiently explained that most everywhere is equally crooked when comes to politicians feathering their own nests…but she’s undeterred.
And since the odds of actually changing the system from the inside now seem be zero without joining The Party, I’m thinking she’s probably right.
From the I-Ching Inbox
As so often happens, when I’m nipping at the heels of cosmic truth about the corruption of government processes over time, especially when run by career politicians, along comes the Universe with a synch-wink.
It was an email from reader Jim and it had the subject line: How to rig an election.
Got my attention, alright:
Thoroughly enjoyed the 2 interesting reports today. This article from Bloomberg came across my feed at the office today. It’s a bit long but reads like a Tom Clancy novel. Thought I’d share it.
I have been toying around with a couple of the Nooelec dongles myself lately with some weather satellite imaging and radar tracking and have looked at some raspberry pi projects that look interesting. Have myself signed up to take the Ham exam next week so I will have something else to spend money on when I retire shortly. Been on my want to do list since I was a kid but there was always something else to do like motorcycles and girls and that time spent playing in the Southeast Asian Conference. I was looking at the old tower down at El Rancho de Chaos and was wondering if there was room to support a couple more antennas on top of that monstrosity that mom uses to watch Judge Judy every afternoon. But then I thought hell that thing may not support my lard ass let alone a couple more antennas.
The way see it, Reader Jim has done me a real solid here: Reminding me that I do have some fine ham radio gear and a tower to look after, myself. Sell the airplane, sell out of Anderson County Texas, and get back to civilization. Manage the portfolio more aggressively – which is easier when you get 10 MB or better broadband with no uplink delays like we have on the satellite link, and relax a bit. Focus on money.
I didn’t used to be a quitter. But with my new resolution to say to hell with politicians and politics, I don’t view it as quitting.
It’s just coming to terms with how the game is rigged. And when I put a big enough stake together, I might go down to Villacabamba Ecuador and hang with reader Bruce for a while.
I lived outside the US for a couple of years in the 1980’s (Cayman Islands) and now, with this experience of trying to change the system from within, I remember why I felt somehow a little different and even freer living in a country without an income tax.
Wherever we end up living, the good old boy network has run us off after 13-years. The myth of Texans loving freedom?
Sure. But only if you belong to the right political party and doing engage in independent thinking and glad-hand the good-old boys.
Since I was never any good at being a suck-up, this is where we part company. Life is too short for bumpy roads and wasting time on hopeless political crap. Good-bye Commission wannabe. I’ll stick with the cute blonde and the money.
Write when you break-even,