Self-control in city politics
Sometimes the basest of our impulses get the best of us.
Frustration and anger can roil even the finest among us, blinding us to long-term consequences for our actions. So we lash out without thinking, releasing our emotions onto the larger world. Words that we might later regret, actions we might later wish we could take back, get the better of us.
In this age of social media, it’s even easier to vent and sputter with a few choice key taps or a poignant meme. But we all know the sage advice of the internet age, reminding us that a card laid is a card played, and that white streaks into the cloud can never be called.
Don’t. Hit. Send.
Never say you’re sorry
Good advice for the best among us indeed. But what about the ambitious, the impulsive, the great unwashed we called the politicians among us? Think how many times He Who Shall Not Be Named was overcome by brain stem instincts in the pre-social media era, from swinging a coffee cup to poking an old man in the chest. Who knows what missives HWSNBN would have cast into the ether if he had had a Twitter finger?
It isn’t just keeping tabs and memes that should be subject to the same advice, though. It would have made just as much sense to have a little bird in HWSNBN‘s ear while he contemplated rash actions. Ready to swing the good china at a subordinate Don’t. Hit. Send.
Great idea, that. Sure beats apologies and dissembling. Let alone the lawsuits on the taxpayer dime in the instant fodder for wags like us.
There are tons more recent examples with current electeds, of course. Hey, Larry Sykes, are you getting chased and harassed by an annoying wannabe activist and want to give him the old chokehold to shut him up? Don’t. Hit. Send. Hey Tyrone Riley, want to hold a quick campaign meeting and think you have a license from the owner to dine and dash, even though the name of the bar has changed? And when you go back the next day want to get in an argument with the new owner in front of her reporter from a local newspaper? Don’t. Hit. Send.
Here are some even more recent ones. Hey Tom Waniewski, do you have a problem with certain criminal elements in the City and want to call them the extremely offense and insensitive name “cockroaches”? Don’t. Hit. Send.
Or how about this one. To Tyrone Riley, who doesn’t seem to learn his lesson. Feeling the heat in a close reelection campaign, and want to make some threats about releasing potentially damaging information about an opponent? Even better, want to make the threats online, and then follow up by dropping some info in someone’s mailbox? Don’t. Hit. Send.
Actions are louder than words
What about the uglier impulses which of no place in city politics, like racism, and sexism and xenophobia? Erstwhile Toledo City Council candidate Tina Scott recently mused that she needed bodyguards to enter a local high school. She immediately apologized for indicating she was afraid of the children of those she sought to represent. But this is the same Tina Scott who regularly posts the whereabouts and movements of African-American youth to her blackwatch page. Not a good look, Tina. Don’t. Hit. Send.
By the time you read this Scott’s campaign will be over and she will have slunk from the scene Not so of the unrepentant Bedford School Board member and gun shop owner Todd Bruning. Bruning has been accused of posting racist, homophobic, and otherwise distasteful memes and slogans on his personal social media pages. He’s even been banned by social media for a month at a time for the offensiveness of his posts. Instead of apologizing Bruning has doubled down, reveling in his bigotry and stating that the backlash makes him want to post even more.
Todd. As an elected representative. Feeling like casting some bigoted screeds into the interwebs? Don’t. Hit. Send.
On second thought, Do. Hit send, again and again, to let your constituents, and everyone who does or may do business with your school district, know exactly who you are. Lay it all out there. Hit send as often as your closed little mind desires. Bruning sez, if you don’t like it, don’t vote for him.
Now there’s some advice we can use.