December 27, 2017

Trump, Girtz and Street-Level Politics

Pub Notes

Ha, ha, ha! The United Nations General Assembly voted 128 to nine to condemn the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Who cares? That Trump, he something, ain’t he? He’s making America great again, and all those loser nations just can’t stand it, can they? And don’t forget, he has vowed revenge against any country that disagrees on this, so he’s got a lot of revenge to dish out. Happy New Year, y’all!

Before this latest Trump blast hit the news cycle, I was crossing Prince Avenue (warily) and thinking Christmas thoughts about just how sick I am of constantly hearing our President Trump’s snarling voice and reading constantly of his latest outrage or attack on somebody or gloating in the adulation he has demanded from the people he appointed or bragging on the tax cut that will line his own pockets along with those of his pals like Little Bobby Corker, the real-estate-mogul senator from Tennessee.

And as I bought a cup of coffee from Seth Hendershot and talked about Christmas plans—he was getting only the one day off (welcome to business ownership!)—I left thinking, why can’t everybody be like Seth, who is hardworking and gives of his time and talent to his community without having to brag about it or attack other people just to build himself up. Is there some rule that politicians have to be different, have to be rancorous, spiteful liars in order to succeed?

Then, I swear, as I walked out of Hendershot’s balancing my coffee and one of their great mixed-fruit yogurt parfaits, I was thinking of my mama (Hey, it’s Christmas!), and I was wondering just what she would have thought of our President Trump. She was no fool, and she had seen a lot of bad politicians in her time and the Great Depression to kick off her adult life, but she was a Methodist, and she had a deeply moral expectation of those in public office. So, as I waited to take my chances on the return across Prince Avenue, I was kind of relieved that at least I wouldn’t have to be commiserating with Mama about Trump during the holidays. (How the mind really works.)


Kelly Girtz

Then, when I got back on the Flagpole side of Prince, I looked down the sidewalk, and here came a familiar figure, out on his frequent litter patrol. Yes, ACC Commissioner Kelly Girtz, with his grab-stick and his trash bag, was working his way along the sidewalk, spearing all the crap that citizens so thoughtlessly drop.

Now, you might say that Commissioner Girtz is just grandstanding, since he is running for mayor. If so, he has been grandstanding for a mighty long time, and I have even spotted him grandstanding at night, when he wasn’t very visible to voters’ eyes. Anyway, what a refreshing sight he was, after my musings about assholery at the top of our political chain. The politician as servant: What a novel idea! Kelly is, by the way, also thoroughly experienced in local government after 11 years on the commission. (Of course, his fellow commissioner and opponent in the mayor’s race Harry Sims has even more experience and is just as nice a guy.)

When I snapped his picture, Kelly said his litter patrol is rewarding because it gives him an immediate payoff, whereas in his work as an educator and his avocation as a commissioner, he frequently has to wait years to see the results of his efforts.

Ours was a serendipitous encounter (especially since I had a Pub Notes yet to write), and it did me a world of good to be reminded that the snarling voice always emanating from my television is an aberration that has called out the worser angels of our nature and given the OK to rampant greed and disregard for the greater good.

I do not know if we can ever recover from what the Republicans, with Trump’s cover, are doing to our country. Maybe if we all elect local candidates who are well qualified and are concerned about the common good, eventually it will trickle up. But it may take more time than we have left.