Jackson's next mayor ought to know how to whittle

February 18, 2017


Mississippi's capital city has decisions to make this year, as another batch of mayoral hopefuls has been dropped at its feet. I don’t ask much of politicians anymore. Only that they be capable of executing the duties of the office. That, and give a damn. It happens less than it should. They might not be able to mix their own tea. But boy do they talk sweet. 


It’s easy to get suckered by the grandiose. But no one really wants Utopia. Read the 1516 book of political philosophy by Thomas More, who constructs and investigates an ideal society. Everything’s great and everyone gets all they need and they all sound miserable; the only pleasure for the citizens, save from waking up to a predictable fairy tale each morning, is the release of a smooth bowel movement. They have no vices. No free markets. No real battles to fight.


It’s best to be practical about social change. There are real, systemic problems in the South that have festered for decades; in some cases, centuries. Jackson's issues literally start from the ground up, with suspect water pipes and roads that I once heard a traveler say are "worse than the ones in Nairobi." But giant problems don’t need bigly solutions. They require a series of small, confident moves. Nobody chops down a tree in one swing unless they’re in an Old Spice commercial using a direwolf as a battleax.


I’m not endorsing any one candidate. I only ask for somebody who can whittle a piece of knotted cedar. Who has the patience and the steady hand to make creeping progress without slicing off their fingers. A policy handy man to put the seat down when he’s through and clean out the gutters every once in a while. Give the dog some scraps. Do more than recite the proverbial to-do list back at us in polished prose, vernacular sound bites, or prayer whispers, as if we'll forget that the tasks actually need doing. 


The election is fast approaching. This time around, stay away from the silver bullet. Beware the golden calf. Resist the Hail Mary.  




Download design files for "Whoever Can Actually Do the Job" yard sign. 


Election Season, Southeastern Tennessee, 2013.


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