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Wily winning: A manual of mutating political philosophy – September 15, 2008

By Joseph Randolph
web posted September 15, 2008

Dear M.

Small towns mean a small amount of votes from the small-minded.  Therefore you need not bother with them when there are large cities with massive voter potential.  Remember that as a man of the people you must be with the people and most importantly with the most people who have come to expect more from you more than your opponent could possibly give to them.  Therefore pick the cities to do your vote getting, and the larger the city the better. Those country fools by contrast may even tell you they don't need you, or perhaps take a gun after you.  Don't worry; you don't need them either—not even for the voting booth. 

As if this is not reason enough to point your feet toward the people centers in your district, remember too that our political ideas already thrive with commendable vitality among city dwellers.  In fact there are some cities in these lower forty-eight where our opponents with even strenuous work can garner no more than every fourth voter.  In our favorite city of the nation, indeed our beloved capitol, it is almost ninety per cent of the voters that dutifully follow us rather than our opponents.

You might ask that if the cities are givens for us, why bother with them.  The reason is simple.  The still-unconverted urbanities, however small their numbers, are always larger than the rural small town populations dotting our land and taking up space where cities could be built.  Convert the remaining unconverted in the cities.  With regard to the unconverted in the rural areas and small towns—don’t bother. 

Oh yes, I know, there is the thought of symbolism in carrying the votes of the rural small towns, but symbolism only carries substance if it translates into voter votes. What voting bloc decides on the basis of the vote of the rural voter to vote for you?  The rural small town voter.  So as I said, he does not have enough votes in his sparsely populated backwater for you to visit him even if you get him to vote for you, along with Jim and Joe down the potholed road they live on.  Again, spend your time not with the least amount of the people who are the least among men, but with the most people.  More is better; less is losing.  Any symbolism that comes with converting the backwards voter into your voter is only meaningful for the vote you already have, and not for your urbanite who thinks urban.  In fact, if your multitudes of urbanites perceive that you are popular among the rural half-civilized, they may change their vote.  So stay away from the rural areas and small towns.  They are not worth the trouble, and worse, they can make trouble for you. 

You see we never get many votes from these people because they are independently minded.  It would well nigh take a revolution to convert them to the ways of dependency that we inculcate into our trusting voters.  The rural rustics are hardly even sociable.  All our talk of the group, the herd, society, and the masses is alien to people who may resist even their relative down the lane if given the chance.  As our national candidate accurately said, they live by their god and their gun.  We hate both, and we tell them if they will vote for us, they will need neither of the other two.  They are caught in a time warp and exist as children in adult bodies.  Best to let them be.  Their numbers don't matter and they matter less every election as there are less of them with every turn of the calendar.  Neither secularization nor socialization nor socialism have caught up to them, and so there is little chance for you to reach them, unless their wallets start to shrink when the economy sours.  Moreover, you know that when economies turn bad, people migrate not from the city to the country, but to the colossal collective that we call the city.  Here there will at least be a bread line or a shelter of some sort.  The rural ruffian’s introduction to the city is their introduction to the fact that we can help even their kind when times are rough.  Let a bad economy convert these rustic rebels for you.  When they show up in the city they will in time convert themselves to you. 

But in the meantime, one must toss bones to venerated objects, however unworthy of affection such things actually are.  This occasional but necessary deference to our rural brethren is one such cumbersome necessity, though rather like the venerated "American Dream."  So, therefore, you will need on occasion to show some modicum of respect toward this uncouth group of our population who we privately despise because they are furthest removed from us, both by miles and medullas.  Like attracts like, and so we are not attracted to each other.  That being said, you can nevertheless toss in a cliché every now and then about the great American "pioneering spirit," still alive out on the prairies, or the Alaskan tundra, or hold up with loaded gun in the mountain hovels.  If you easily fatigue over this nonsense about frontier and pioneers--and indeed you will some of the time--then find a way to use it to preach your message, and some of their young, anxious to escape the morbidness of the rural small towns will be pulled into our cities and begin to vote for us.

It is easy to do, and one hardly need wait for shrinking wallets and a bad economy.  Simply point out the mammoth differences between life in the backwoods and life in the high-rise.  Start by talking about rural poverty, for example.  Most of the young of the rural barbarians can be drawn away to the dream of the city by indicating just how rough life is when eked out on the creek bank.  They may have never noticed their plight until you tell them, but of course with media spinning another world into every crevice these days, the sod busters and all their kind can see and hear it all on their electronic gadgetry from the barn or the cellar or the swamp.  Even the rural folk of just a generation or two ago had trouble keeping their youngsters down on the farm, but with all the media showing the glitz of city life, fewer and fewer of the young can resist the temptation of escape from their wretched rural existence. 

Of course some of our misguided strategists imagine that such peculiar populations as you encounter in our backwaters demand populist politicians.  These strategists presume that we must make ourselves into the image of the ignorant in order to draw the vote of these rural ruffians who identify more with their general store than the storehouse that is our capital.  We are all for populism when it makes us electable, but populism of the Andrew Jackson sort went out with log cabins and tobacco.  We despise both.  To be a populist today requires you to be a man of the people, but remember where the most people live.  Nor does populism today mean coarseness; it means "main-stream" as we call it.  This of itself is enough to keep you away from the wrong worry of thinking these country people are worth any political effort.  Of course we are no more mainstream than they—those of our political persuasion are about as far from the main stream as the Volga is from the Potomac—but the point to grasp for vote getting is that populism today is not guns and tobacco and bibles. Do not therefore show sympathy or support for this kind of culture of ignorance masking itself as the best citizens in waiting for a proper candidate.  While one cannot precisely show open disdain for our backwater cultures, one should try to ignore them.  When the ugly voice from such parts is raised and becomes strident with its trademark victorianism and godism and gunism, let your voters know that you will have nothing to do with the fringe elements of our country.  You can even tout that you had rather lose the election than be ushered into office by the votes of such people.  Remember they have very few votes compared to the bounty of our teeming cities.  So go ahead and say that you had rather lose your election than have the votes of rascals, for then you can reap your reward: you will be honored as one politician still standing up for principle, and you will be counted a man of inscrutable moral courage.  Once the applause is over after such an announcement by you, you can absent yourself from the deafening applause in a back room for a minute and with some of your staff have the laugh of your life over fools making your political career possible. 

Remember, and I have failed to say it for a while, but do not forget: your political quest is all sliding board if done rightly.  I mean correctly.  Don't make this journey to your political office harder than it needs to be.  Look for the crowds.  In our country you don't even have to make them.  They are already made.  They are called cities.  Stay away from any other place.  Do not leave the ninety and nine to go for a mere one. ESR

Joseph Randolph is a writer and academic who lives in Wisconsin.

 

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