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    Saturday, January 19, 2019-3:16:28A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Variations | Hear hear!

ON Monday, Jan. 14th, the CNMI’s newly elected officials will be sworn in. We will hear one heartfelt speech after another. Expressions of profound gratitude. Expressions of grave concerns. Promises. Paeans to family, community, local culture, resiliency, American ideals, “The People” — and “The Children,” including “The Children’s Children.”

Everyone is sincere. Everyone will vow to work for the betterment of the community and “The People.”

Not many us will remember that previous Inauguration Day speeches, more or less, hit the same right notes. And not a lot of us will expect that we will, more or less, hear the same speeches again on future Inauguration Days.

Democratic elections are the triumph of hope over experience. What we usually remember are good intentions. We’re suckers for good intentions — and never mind if their consequences are usually the opposite of our expectations.

It is rare to hear a newly elected official publicly admitting that things may get worse, and that he is not sure whether he can do anything about it. Not a lot of people vote for truth-tellers.

But what if such an individual miraculously won an election?  What will he say on Inauguration Day?

It could be something like this:

“Good morning!

“Today I will promise to continue saying things that you, or most of you, want me to say, and I will try to do the things you, or many of you, expect me to do even if they can’t be done.

“I will not contradict any of your harebrained suggestions. I will not even call them harebrained, at least not in public. Instead, I will nod my head vigorously, sympathetically.

“You elected me as your representative, and as your representative I’m supposed to carefully evaluate an issue and consult with knowledgeable people before introducing, supporting or opposing any bill. But if I do that, I may end up proposing or saying something that will anger many of you who have neither the time nor the inclination to study these issues.

“Many of you want me to be your dancing puppet, Santa Claus and personal ATM. You want me to agree with you all the time, but there’s so many of you, and you yourselves seldom agree with one another. You also believe that there is such a thing as a free lunch, that tradeoffs are unnecessary, and perfection is possible. 

“If I tell you the truth, as I am doing right now; if I say that, like many other voters all over the world, you’re confused and confusing — I would be kicked out of office even before the end of my term…or this speech.

“So why am I in politics? Why did I seek office? Because, like many other politicians, I didn’t  realize what I was getting into. And once I finally did, I assumed that I could wing it.

“In any case, two years from now most of you won’t even recall what you were complaining about today. Many of us will believe that the ‘new’ (but actually old) problems we face are the worst ever, and that we are living near the end of days.

“So we will vote for change, again.  We will demand change — from others, of course, and not  from ourselves. We’re fine as we are. Unlike the others. Especially the others.

“God bless democracy!”

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