Thursday, September 21, 2023

Sound of Silence: All quiet in City Politics

     Listen.  Can you hear it?

     No, not the ominous booming of war zone grade fireworks on the next block over.  Listen between the booms.


     Unlike any summer any of us can remember, there is a quiet that has settled in over the land.   A time of solitude and quiet reflection, neighbors grilling out and walking dogs.  A throwback to a simpler time.

     And local politicos and their supporters hate it.

Cancel culture

This is surely a summer like no other.  It started even before the first day of Spring, when Ohio Guvnah Mike DeWine announced that schools would close before Spring Break and that social gatherings across the state would be limited to fifty people or less.  Then twenty-five.  Then ten.  Then stay at home.  An avalanche of cancellations followed.

     The Blarney downtown had planned an “attempt to break the world record” kilt run at its annual St. Patrick’s Day Shamrockin’ Shuffle.  Instead, the run was postponed until June, and then until September.  Likewise, the accompanying massive block party was cancelled.  The whole St. Patrick’s Day amateur hour, gone in the twinkle of a leprechaun’s eye.

     From there it only got worse.  Shortly after the demise of green beer, the unthinkable happened.  The Old West End Association announced the cancellation of its annual festival in June.  Cancellations fell thick and fast, and pretty soon nearly every major summer festival was canceled.

     No Memorial Day Parade downtown.  No Promenade Park concerts.  No Hensville events.  No Walleye playoff run, no Mud Hens Opening Day at Fifth Third Field.

     And now no Fourth of July fireworks on the river front.  Don’t get us going on the conspiracy theories surrounding the ongoing fireworks raging across the fruited plain.  The real banana is off.

     Even the City of Toledo’s cash cow, red light and speeding cameras have been put on hold while the City tries to implement a new, Ohio Supreme Court-mandated appeals process through Toledo Muni Court.  But we digress.

No politics as usual

The cancellation of summer twenty twenty has caused a furor in the political class.  If you’ve gone to any normal summer festival, you have seen the candidates and their toadies slithering among the food trucks and beer booths and house parties and garage sales shilling for votes.  Clipboards in hand, they ask for signatures and press sweaty candidate hadbills into your palms.

     Now?  Nada.  No mass gatherings means nowhere for the candidates to gather signatures to get on the ballot.  Nowhere to litter the roadways with campaign signage.  Nowhere to kiss babies and shake hands.  No Facetime and no elevator speeches.  Even the life blood of City Politics, large fundraisers, are a no go.

     All of this decidedly favors incumbents, who can more easily raise money from an established donor base, and who already have name recognition on their side.  Politics without campaigns works like that.

     Still, even incumbent candidates are in a funk, not knowing what to do without festivals to crash and palms to press.

     While we miss normal summertime fun, we sure don’t miss dodging sweaty candidates while waiting for the fries and funnel cakes.  We gotta admit, the political campaign-free summer is a silver lining in the COVID-19 cancellation cloud.  It’s time to figger out a way to have the peace, but without the quiet, in future summers.

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