Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who Cares About All This - The Big Easy, Funkhouser and Getting Away From it All

Sorry for the outburst of silence on this blog. First it was illness, then it was a trip to New Orleans for my daughter's graduation from Tulane. A massive interruption in my ordinary life, with relatively little internet time, cursory attention to national news, and no awareness of local politics whatsoever.

In short, I was kind of like a typical voter for a week and a half.

Except for my botched attempt at factual reporting, I've pretty much ignored the Funkhouser Recall attempt, but it seems that the activists there are experiencing a bit of the disconnect I have felt. When wrapped up in local politics, and communicating with a circle of others that care about the same things, it's easy to think what's on our own minds is on everyone's mind. It's easy to convince yourself that the city wants a recall, but the reality is that the average voter does not care ten percent as much as activists do, one way or the other.

Spend a few hours with a group of political insiders, and you'll quickly find out what "everyone's talking about". The political gossip is intriguing and enveloping. But, when push comes to shove, it's only a few people talking amongst themselves. "Everyone" is not talking about politics - local, state or national. Instead, they are talking about dinner, sports, family, neighbors, and work.

I received a couple text messages on my phone about political developments last week. I appreciated the kindness of those keeping me informed, but receiving them while disengaged was kind of like receiving cricket scores from Pakistan - it was separate from the world I was inhabiting.

New Orleans feels like a different country, so the disconnect may have been stronger than it would have been otherwise. Also, it was the first time my family had been together since Christmas, so the presence of loved ones may have heightened the distraction. When you can look ahead to fried oyster po' boys with four people you love, it's hard to devote mental energy to city council matters, or even the Jackson County Ethics Blackout.

90+ percent of people spend most of their lives in the politics-free world I visited last week. The Recall people have seen that the near-unanimous outrage they expected to tap into was not nearly as deep or as widespread as they anticipated. I won't argue that the Recall is headed toward failure because of a deep and widespread love of Funkhouser - the only thing truly deep and widespread is apathy.

I'm back in the real world now, and ready to jump back into the world of state, local and national politics. I do care about this stuff, and it really does matter who is our Mayor, whether our County Legislature accepts ethical Home Rule, and who will replace Souter. It just surprised me how easily I shed all those concerns for a week and a half, and how "normal" it felt to be apolitical.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that life outside the political sphere is gentler and kinder. Decisions are easier when one does not need to please 51% of the other people around us, all the time. Satisfaction and fulfillment are achievable goals without the cajoling of others.
"Who cares" is not a question, it is a statement.

5/19/2009 9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funkhouser is leaving quite a legacy.

His last two years are going to be awful. Worse than the first two, if you can imagine that.

5/19/2009 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

Suffering a bit from the Apolitical Blues, were you?

5/20/2009 6:32 AM  
Anonymous Sophia said...

Maybe I'm spoiled from the Chastain years, but I go to Westport Sunfresh three to four times a week and I haven't seen any petitioners. Where are they circulating? Hell, I haven't seen any downtown by the courthouse either.

5/20/2009 8:48 AM  
Blogger Jeffrey said...

Congratulations on the graduation!!!!! I am thrilled for her and for you two.

I am languishing in the eastern Missouri forest, hearing only owls, the occasional mower and the great all-day music on 88.1.

It is as if the grim distress and blight endured by of the plurality of KC residents doesn't even exist.

5/20/2009 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Susan Wiegand said...

Hey! that wasn't Jeffrey, it was Susan. But he would say the same thing.

5/20/2009 12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some friends who are political definitely mistake my going to fundraisers for political interest. I go for social reasons.

5/20/2009 8:09 PM  
Anonymous inafunkaboutthefunk said...

Danny, congrats on the graduation of your daughter from Tulane. Maybe the lesson you should be learning from your last few months away from ALL THINGS FUNK A DUNK is that the farther away from him and the gigantic and hateful mess he has made the better you are and the nicer the bloggers are to you. Anyway, good luck to your daughter in her post college life :)

5/20/2009 8:20 PM  

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