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BY COLUMNISTS

| Joe Charlebois | Guest Columnist | Harry M. Covert | Norman M. Covert | Ken Kellar | Patricia A. Kelly | Edward Lulie III | Tom McLaughlin | Cindy A. Rose | Richard B. Weldon Jr. |

DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


February 25, 2005

A Fairy Tale for the Twisted Mind

Richard B. Weldon Jr.

Once upon a time, in a far away land, a heavy mist fell over the ground. The mist, which brought fear into the minds of the local population, was referred to as "a political campaign."

Whispers of frightened conversations could be heard throughout the community, especially in the areas where houses were grouped close together. These people had a reason to be fearful. Since their houses were clustered together, they knew that the "politicians" would eventually make their way house-by-house.

In a particularly attractive village, known for a beautiful park in its center, the mist fell extra heavy. The reigning ruler, known for an odd mix of creativity and heavy-handedness, had implemented a series of modest reforms and quality of life enhancements for the villagers.

The ruler chose an interesting way of bringing forth ideas. The ruler slowly and intentionally built a core group of villagers, by neighborhood, to help introduce and implement these reforms.

This concept of neighborhood-building was a brilliant strategy, but had some negative impacts. When the ruler proposed a new idea, the neighborhood advocates would speak out publicly, representing their views as a voice for a whole group of villagers.

Unfortunately, that wasn't always the case. There were many villagers who didn't agree with the ruler or the neighborhood spokespeople but weren't as knowledgeable about when to show up and speak out.

The upside for the ruler was that their program was spread throughout the whole village, on the strength of word of mouth. In firehouses, markets, doctor's offices, and school buildings, villagers were talking about the ruler's plans.

When the political mist started settling, several new aspiring rulers emerged.

One of them, an affable type known for an odd choice of neckwear, walked around telling villagers he wanted to be ruler but needed to know what other potential rulers would seek the position before making up his mind.

This good guy served on the village council, serving as a sort of middle-ground keeper, trying to keep everyone happy, or at least physically separated.

Another ruler-hopeful, who had served as the ruler decades before, had moved out of the village several years before. His new dwelling was located just outside the village, so close that the smoke from his chimney blew into the village.

This former ruler had been very popular, but had ended his term on a negative note. Villagers had felt that he had gotten out of touch with their interests, and he had been cast out in favor of a reform-minded ruler.

The former ruler was still highly regarded, especially by business owners. Unfortunately, thousands of new villagers had moved into the village. None of these villagers knew much about this former ruler, including all the good stuff he'd done.

In order to seek the office of ruler again, this would-be ruler needed a black-robed mystic to allow him to seek the office of ruler. There was no guaranty that the mystic would give him that authority, but the mystery was interesting.

The current ruler had done a very good job of communicating with new villagers. The affable would-be ruler was widely celebrated as a good guy and had demonstrated an ability to forge partnerships and compromise.

Some suggested that the good guy would-be ruler lacked the will to stand up in the face of political attack, but villagers were clearly mixed on that point.

The wild card in all of this was the ruling village council, since history had proven that rulers frequently emerged from this group.

The council was defined by gender, with the female village councilors siding with the current ruler, and the male councilors serving as opponents to just about everything the others wanted to do.

Villagers, still stinging from the last time rulers and potential rulers sought their support, sought refuge in their attics and basements. Local newspaper reporters stalked the streets, looking for anyone crazy enough to offer an opinion.

Unfortunately, the crazies don't need much encouragement to come out of the woodwork! When villagers were quoted it just encouraged rulers and would-be rulers to speak up even more.

The mist has been lingering much longer than it used to. Villagers were getting weary, knowing that the mist would hang over the village until the fall of the year.

Instead of enjoying the warm summer evenings, villagers stocked their shelves with provisions in anticipation of the need to hunker down, locking their doors tight against the door-to-door onslaught.

The only reason for rejoices was the knowledge that this would only be temporary; that the mist would eventually lift and the rulers and would-be rulers would return to the halls of power.

Time will tell if they'll live happily ever after....



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