His career became much more lucrative when he whittled his constituency down to one
Imagine the unimaginable: an elected official who never even thinks about the people who elected him. Instead, he—let’s call him John Q. Private, Jr.—works for the highest bidder. Every vote he casts is bought and paid for by special interests. “Special” in the sense that they are not the interests of his constituency—or rather, he is his constituency. Was he born corrupt, or was he corrupted? Well, a bit of both.
When Johnny was but a tyke, you see, his daddy—John Q. Private, Sr.—would say, “Son, one of these days this will all be yours!” Johnny thought that would be nice. The governor’s mansion! Fancy cars! Seemingly endless allowance! But as the little boy grew into a young man, his daddy gave him a verbal list of some things that were not so fun. These were called “expectations.”
The first one on the list was something called “Follow in your old man’s footsteps.” When Johnny asked about it, his daddy described a whole lot of things that seemed difficult and would take a lot of time. He even said that, when the young man had a boy of his own, John Q. Private III should follow in junior’s footsteps, too! It’s like a game of follow the leader, Johnny thought, but it lasted generation after generation, and could be hampered by “indictments,” whatever those are.
Well, soon daddy retired from government. Junior noticed that pops, when he wasn’t out playing golf, would sit at home and open envelopes with paychecks in them. Some were from his state pension, of course, but he also got big checks from a utility company, a passenger railway, “U.S. Coal,” and a Swiss bank. It was funny how daddy took checks from one bank and deposited them in another!
Anyway, it was time for junior to run for the seat vacated by his pa. Johnny won the election in a landslide, even though he hardly campaigned at all. Daddy laughed and said that the one thing voters want the most is to recognize one darn-tootin’ name on the ballot. All the pieces of what he had been taught over the years were starting to come together. The electorate was sure easy to win over. A little irresponsible, thought junior, but he couldn’t deny he enjoyed the benefits of the “Private” name.
After an immense celebration, and before junior moved into “the big office,” daddy took him aside for a “man-to-man talk.” This is when John, Sr. told him about the “constituency of one.” “Now,” daddy said, “YOU are the one!” He explained how John, Jr. should “never be taken for a dummy,” and that meant forgetting all about those careless voters who had so-called “supported” him. Elections are like crazy public festivals and, once the hangovers are cured, nobody really cares what happens next.
“Now, you go in there and do something for yourself and your family,” pa said. Johnny looked his father in the eye and nodded.
To Be Continued…
My upcoming novel, ULTIMATE ERROR, is about the trickle-down effect of government corruption. The backroom deals are invisible and silent—until they’re not.