Political Origins

by Flynn Washburne, November 16, 2016

That's it! I'm through with Donald Trump! Somewhere, some ones are hard at work making ink for these pens I use and I continue to squander it on that walking compost heap. It's a slap in the face to the makers of writing implements everywhere and I would like to personally apologize for my cavalier misuse of their fine products, and I freely acknowledge the myriad of more noble uses to which they could have been put, like doodling variations on the smiley-face theme (ex: frowny face, X's for eyes, knife in head, bow tie, googly eyes, mustaches [Dali, Zapata, Hitler, Fu Manchu), or scars) or punk band logos. For that matter, I could employ the pen as a drumstick and beat out a tattoo on the tabletop, or as a medical instrument to extract foreign matter from clogged orifices. Either would be more worthwhile than devoting more column-inches to that walking pile of drain hair. This election will have been held by the time this sees print, so that talking gumboil will have oozed back into his crevice to return to the business of quietly festering now that his shitshow charade has run its vile, retrograde* course. Adios, you unreconstructed pile of rancid hog fat. Oh, and Mr. Editor? Should the unthinkable happen, please jettison this column and print the one entitled All Hail Lord Trump (And I Was Just Kidding Before).

One thing I know for sure is that if cats had wings, the aerial battles between them and the raptors would be epic and they would still, ironically, be called dogfights. If dogs had wings, you could just say goodbye to the race of dogs because they'd all be sucked into propellers and turbines from chasing planes.

Hm. I kinda thought I could go a lot further with that. I envisioned those winged cats up there locked in mortal combat with owls and ospreys, and dogs being pureed into a fine canine mist, and it felt like there was a possibility of taking that a ways down the road, but I guess not. Maybe I could go back and milk that swollen, dripping Trump udder just one more time. No — no, a promise is a promise and if I start breaking them then I'm no better than a low-down politician myself. I may be a felon, and a drug addict, and a shirker, and a cad, but that's one brush you can't tar me with. Not now, anyway, but it's true that I began public life as a career politician.

It began In Mill Valley in 1965, the year I started kindergarten. As part of the early brainwashing programs popular at the time, our senses of civic duty and responsibility were formed and shaped by nominating and electing class officers. My friend Heidi Sagen nominated me for the top spot, and in a sweeping mandate, I carried the day. My duties, so far as I can remember, consisted of donning the badge of office (a fuzzy gold eagle with the word PRESIDENT above) and leading the class in the Pledge of Allegiance, which I did with brio and panache, and accepting the milk nickels from the Treasurer before handing them off to the teacher. The Treasurer (my friend Heidi, whom I nominated; we learned our political lessons well and early) and I were the only ones tasked with any actual business. The poor veep’s title was strictly ceremonial and all he could do was wait patiently for me to take sick so he could sidle in and take the reins, and I'm proud to say I never gave the sonofabitch the satisfaction.

The following year I matriculated into the first grade at Quail Hollow Elementary in Ben Lomond, and, having developed a taste for power, finagled a nomination from the boy next to me once the impending elections were announced. "Psst! Nominate me for President and I'll nominate you for whatever you want," I said.

"But I don't want to be anything," he answered.

"Fine, I'll give you a Ring-Ding out of my lunch," I countered. He agreed and when I went up against Natalie Marsh for the presidency, the secret ballot (face down on desk, arm raised) resulted in a tie. Miss Fairbanks invited the two candidates to the front of the room to tell the class a little something about ourselves.

"I know how to read. I've already read over one hundred books. I have a snake at home that's bigger than me. My dad died in a car crash," I said.

She never had a chance.

In addition to leading the class in the Pledge, I was tasked with any outside-the-class errands that needed running, which inflated my sense of self-importance considerably. I was a wise and just ruler, and while I did not engineer any sweeping reforms, neither were there any accusations of corruption or malfeasance. The status quo was maintained, and I'm proud to say that the rate of advancement for my constituency to the second grade was 100% under my benevolent leadership.

Quail Hollow was a small school, and second grade was more or less the same group of kids, so I had incumbency going for me as the 1967 election got underway. I faced some pretty serious opposition from Brent Beasley, who was running on the Class Clown ticket, but I'm pleased to say that the class was unswayed by his antics and I carried the day yet again.

Second grade was again a halcyon period and the following year I ran unopposed. The class had accepted me as their leader and I was secure and confident in the role, which may explain why my administration was finally tainted with scandal. One of my duties were to assign, on a weekly basis, students to perform certain rote tasks around the classroom and playground. There was a door-opener, an equipment distributor, a paper passer-outer, a blackboard cleaner, and a lights/windows/shades specialist, and I had a rotating group of people who I counted on to do these jobs correctly and efficiently. One day Miss Becker asked me to hang back a moment at recess. "Flynn, I notice you're appointing the same group of friends every week on the jobs board," she said. "I think it would be nice if everybody had a chance to do something."

I bristled at the intimation of cronyism. "I choose the best people for the job, not because they're my friends. I-make-the- trains-run-on-time," I said, punctuating each word with a stab of my finger.

"That may be, but I'm going to ask you to include the rest of the class, okay?"

"Fine!" I snapped. Chest puffed up in indignation, I strutted out to recess. Zounds! My cabinet had been gutted! Damn all interfering teachers, anyway.

The following week I redid the list to comply with Becker's diktat, and it wasn't long before the results of her pinko reforms reverberated throughout the classroom. Mickey, a barely sentient clod who I'd chosen for lights monitor, stood woolgathering as the class watched first the leader, then the title and introduction of “Canada: Our Neighbor To The North” under bright fluorescent light. "Lights! Lights!" the class exhorted raggedly, finally penetrating Mickey’s fog and blanketing me in hot shame. I caught the eye of Sandon, my former light specialist, across the room, and his rueful, accusatory look cut me to the quick. I had let my people down, and I was not in the least surprised 30 minutes later when we sat in the dark as the film flappity-flap-flapped on the take-up reel. Despite the setback, I again prevailed the following year in Miss Huntsinger's 4th grade class. It was a good year and I firmed up my status as a competent, able leader by winning every academic honor available, plus the American Legion essay contest, the attendance award, and the square-dance competition, which makes what happened in 5th grade all the more puzzling.

When the nominations were announced, a little chippie named D'ava chirped, "I nominate Chris!"

Chris Wortman was a good-looking thug who'd never shown the least interest in classroom administration or anything but sports and tormenting younger children. He stood, raised his clasped hands over his head in the classic champions gesture, and it was all over for me. Five years of public service down the drain, tossed aside for a pretty face.

To add to my humiliation, Chris ignored completely any of the duties or trappings of the office and went blithely about his lackadaisical business. Under his apathetic administration, the job devolved into a meaningless sinecure and the President into a powerless figurehead.

Was I bitter? Oh, I don't know. You tell me. I'm still bitter, dammit. I googled Chris a few years back. He still lives in the area and operates as some kind of middle-management functionary, I think. All I know is, he's not the president of a goddamn thing. So, if cynicism tends to color my attitude and opinions about politics, I come by it honestly.

I never again sought public office, though I'm not ruling anything out for the future. I'm not sure but that Mendocino County might not prosper significantly with me in some kind of supervisory capacity. Stick a pin in that one.

On a semi-related note, I would like to call your attention to the historical fact of Republican shenanigans coinciding with the birth of the party, as evidenced by the systematic attempt by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to discredit Alexander Hamilton, and later George Washington, as royalist sympathizers. The cheap, childish tactic of making up lies about your opponent to score points when you realize you're overmatched has reached its apex with the slimy sideshow that is the campaign of He Who Shall Not Be Named, and I suggest to the Republicans that, having allowed it, you have forfeited your right to participate in the electoral process, and unless you can queue up an Eisenhower or a Lincoln, or at the very least a T. Roosevelt for 2020, kindly peddle your papers elsewhere.

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