Hometown Politics

“I’m thirty-five, we got a boy of our own now
Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look around
This is your hometown.” — Bruce Springsteen

Every once in awhile, someone puts something in a way that turns the light on. The discussions have been ongoing for months now as America is split between those that want to get the vaccine and those that don’t. Those that don’t are seemingly subdivided into groups of people that simply don’t want to get the jab and those that are willing to try any number of experimental treatments at the suggestion of who I called “Uncle Sal.”

Tip O’Neill (former Speaker of the House) once famously said, “all politics is local.” He also famously used to share a beer with Ronald Reagan after a tough day’s fight over legislation. Of course, the last part was one of those legends that is probably hyperbolic in nature. It’s an anecdote loosely based on something that never really happened, but feels good to bring up as a kind of morality tale. See, look the two bitter enemies used to get along. Why can’t we do that now?

Anyhow, the point in question is that many of the falsehoods going around about the virus and about the multitude of methods to prevent it are coming from the cliques that we used to belong to in high school. Shocking I know. Coming from a community where many people stay afterwards, makes this kind of notion make more sense. I probably run into people I graduated with on a weekly basis and it’s been nearly 30 years since I graduated from high school.

So, the point that this person was making was that you have people who were influential in high school. They were the leaders of the pack. They know things. Any number of us can say that we are beyond all of that stuff and maybe we mostly are. Yet, social media has managed to keep us all connected. It’s managed to allow us to brag about our kids. It’s allowed us a way to keep those bonds alive in a kind of competition over relevance.

That competition extends to our own lives as well. See, I’ve been successful. See, I have a nice family. See, I have a good job. See, look at all the stuff I’ve been able to accumulate. Maybe I was an ugly duckling that turned into a swan. Maybe I was always the swan and am desperate to still be one. Maybe I’m desperate just to be one of the ducklings again. I think everyone sees where this is going.

Social media has allowed us to stay tethered to those groups. I have Facebook friends that I might have had one conversation with in high school. I’m sure many of you are the same way. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Trips down amnesia lane are good sometimes. The key thing is remembering that for people my age, it has been longer since we have been in high school than all the way up to graduation. In other words, we’re getting old.

Demographics clearly show that party affiliation and political ideology are broken down by population density. It’s staggering to think that with more population density comes more independent thought and progressive attitudes. It doesn’t seem like it would be that way, but in smaller towns we get stuck into these generational relationships. Bubba was the football star. Bubba is successful now and has a good family. Bubba was calm, cool, and collected when he led us to victory over Possum Holler High School. I should listen to him when he tells me to ingest Clearasil to fight off the Covids. He knows stuff. He’s good under pressure and God knows this is a pressure situation.

If we look back with a critical eye we will remember that Bubba was the guy cheating off of the cheerleaders during the Biology and Chemistry tests. He was the one that could never tell the difference between mitosis and meiosis. It’s not a point of judgment since I can’t either, but it does reinforce the point that Bubba might not be the person to listen to when it comes to COVID prevention. Yet, when you have 40 or more years of history with Bubba as a group leader you can see why some people would rather listen to Bubba than some egghead that spends their time in a lab all day. Except, they are the ones that really know and Bubba is the one spouting bullshit.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for thefantatasyfix.com. You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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