I had the distinct honor of being a tiny little cog in the political machine that runs our county last week. I attended the Tooele County Republican Party Convention as a delegate. I strutted in with my official name badge knowing that I, along with 120 others, held the fate of total strangers in my hands.
Ah, but how the haughty soon fall. But, I’ll get to that. Meanwhile, I got to shake hands with people whose cheeks were quivering from having to smile so long while they handed out little mints along with pamphlets proving they were more conservative than the next guy. I had no idea there were that many different kinds of little mints. Typical of cheap Republicans, each candidate had a booth with a bowl of bulk mints from Costco to give out as bribes or gestures of goodwill. I’m sure the Democrats at their convention gave out piles of free food stamps and condoms. To her credit, our county clerk, Marilyn Gillette, had a jar of fun-size candy bars (I fail to see what’s “fun” about 0.045 ounces of chocolate), though we all felt sheepish about taking one since no one was running against her. You see, you gotta be loaded to compete with fun-size candy bars.
I also got to see a turncoat squirm. Former Democrat Mike Jensen, our county auditor, jumped parties in order to eliminate his rival early on. It was like shaking hands with a newly baptized church member who’s a little bewildered at this new doctrine he’s espoused.
“Welcome Brother Jensen,” we said. “We’re sure you won’t mind proving your party loyalty by joining a Tea Party militia, would you?”
My fantasies of power and influence all proved to be an illusion, however. It appears the only hotly contested race was for county surveyor. That’s the only county position going to the primaries this year. Well, I guess you got to fight over something. Do we really care if the person looking through sighting scopes, moving chains and driving stakes into the ground is a socialist or a free-market Reagan conservative? Now that I think about it, maybe we do. I might wake up one morning to find the back yard fence is seven feet closer to the house.
“Honey, that Marxist you voted for for county surveyor just ‘redistributed’ our property line,” I’d say.
Why didn’t we just flip a coin. You can thank your “fiscally responsible” county Republican delegates for the $100,000 it’s going to cost to drag out all the voting machines, set up a couple dozen voting stations around a county larger than most Eastern states staffed with paid poll workers, so that three people can vote for the guy who gets to draw lines on maps designating townships and school lands in the middle of 300 square miles of salt flats. The glories of democracy, I suppose.
My delusions of influence and political leverage were further dashed when I witnessed the real powers that be enter the “smoke-filled back room” where the fate of our county was decided. Joyce Hogan, the self-appointed Grand Matron of Club Republican, though she holds no position within the party, rounded up all the county office-holders to meet with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert. I tried to hover around the door, but the sound of a cocked Beretta 85FS Cheetah from under the coat of one of Herbert’s goons persuaded me to go get some more mints instead.
I learned later that apparently this meeting was called to let the governor know that “all” of Tooele County is for the storing of nuclear waste within our lovely boundaries, and any other undesirable but profitable substances the world wants to sweep under the rug, without the nuisance of some lowly unwashed county delegate raising his hand saying, “But, but…”
Someday, however, this humble little cog is going to become a big cog. I’m taking careful notes, saving up for full-size candy bars (only one per delegate, please), and exercising my smile muscles. I’m going to run for county dog catcher. I can imagine back-room deals with Purina to “recycle” depleted uranium, shaking down other elected officials for chew toy funding, and expounding upon the Constitutional principles of puppy impounding. Plato, Aristotle, Jefferson — they had no clue on the actual powers of democracy!
John Hamilton, the creative director for Transcript-Bulletin Publishing, is venturing into the world of punditry and riches beyond imagining.