Best Bad Guy of the Bunch - Republican Democrat or Independent
                                              (a conversation)

     

          How do you know if you’re a Republican or a Democrat?

          That’s an interesting question for a fifteen year-old.  I assume you’re asking because you will be eighteen and eligible to vote in three years?

          No.  I have to write a paper on what it means to be a...fill-in-the-blank...political party.

          And your choices are only Republican or Democrat?

          Um, no.  I...just only know about those.  What are you?

          Independent.

          So you vote for Independent candidates?

          I have on occasion, but what it usually means is sometimes I vote for a Democrat and sometimes I vote for a Republican.  I never vote for a party, always for a person.

          So you know you’re an Independent because you don’t always vote for one party, instead you vote for whichever candidate is the best to you?  Sounds good to me. 

          I see from your expression you think that might be enough information to fill your report?

          Hah—yea, that was what I was thinking.

          If I were to explain what it means to be an Independent, I’d have to explain why I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, nor Libertarian, Green, blah, blah—the list is long—much more complicated than explaining why someone belongs to one party.  I have an idea.  Why don’t you pick something the government has done that you like or dislike and maybe I can help you determine which political party you prefer.

          I really can’t think of anything the government did or didn’t do.  I don’t pay attention to that stuff.

          Oh come on.  There must be some rule or law that you...

          I know:  I wish I didn’t have to wait until I’m sixteen to get a job.

          OK, that’s what I mean.  But, it isn’t exactly true—you are allowed to work at fifteen, it’s just that you are limited to certain types of jobs and certain hours.  But, since Child Labor Laws aren’t favored by one political party, none of this will help you write your report.  How about another one?

          Ummmm...

          Finish this thought:  ‘If I were elected King, the first thing I’d do...

          I would remove all the no skateboarding on the sidewalk thingy’s. 

          Ahh.  Now were getting somewhere.  Good.  This is a private property and insurance liability issue.  It may appear you’re skating on public property, but the entire grocery store parking lot is private property.  So they post signs which—at face value—prohibit you from skating there; the real purpose is to protect them from lawsuits when you get hurt or when you crash into someone else....

          ...No no, not those.  I’m talking about the sidewalk ones.

          I don’t understand.  What sidewalk ones?

          They’re yellow and bumpy?  You know.  They make them out of rubber.

          Oh.  Ohhh.

          You think those are installed to impede skateboarders?

          That’s what I was told.

          Actually, they’re to assist people with disabilities.  People who are almost blind can see the bright yellow; those who are completely blind can feel the bumpy-rubber texture; snow and ice melts fast on them, and they provide traction for wheelchairs.  The fact that it also dissuades skateboarders is an unintended side-bonus.

          What?

          Oh, I’m sorry, did I say that last bit out loud? 

          Not.  Funny.

          But it applies very nicely to the politics issue.  Very nicely.  Now that you know the purpose of the safety mats, would you still remove them if you were elected King?

          Yes.  Ahhmm, no.  Probably not.  Wait a minute—how does this have anything to do with political parties? 

          I’ll explain.  Let’s pretend you are King.  OK?

          Great!  As King I demand you give me an allowance.  This minute.  In fact.  Give me every dollar in your wallet.  It is a tax.  A new tax.  On...ability to talk to the King.  Everyone who talks to the King must pay this tax.

          Wonderful!  NOW we’re getting somewhere.  Even though you’re laughing, it indicates which political party you might be affiliated with.

          Really?

          Yup.  But before you take all my money your highness, I’d like to address the issue of installing safety mats at every curb cut in your kingdom.  Once I’m finished explaining, I think you’ll agree.  May I begin?

          Begin lowly citizen.

          Your Highness...

          You may address me as Your Majesty or just Majesty for short.

          Very good, Your Majesty.  A million of your loyal and devoted minions are sight or mobility disabled.  Every one of them will benefit from the installation of safety mats.  The total cost to install a safety mat at every cut curb in your land will be less than .000001% of Your Majesty’s treasury or—to put it in clearer terms—it will cost you less than what you pay for one minute of electricity in all your government buildings.  They will protect these citizens from injury and even death.  If they save even one of your minions lives, isn’t the cost worth the expense?  Thank you for listening to me Majesty.

          You are most welcome my lowly citizen and I...

          Your Majesty if I may?  I’d like to address the other point of view if you will permit?

          Why yes, you...  with... the worst most-terrible almost-British accent.  Or is that French?  French Canadian maybe?

          I’m so dreadfully sorry about my accent Majesty.

          Go ahead then.  Continue if you must.

          I would like to appeal to Your Majesty’s common sense and suggest you do not install any so-called ‘safety mats’ anywhere in your land.  The person who spoke to you first claimed that they would cost less than a hundred-thousandth of one percent.  Which may sound like a small percentage; but you have a very large treasury Your Majesty.  The total dollar cost would be ten million dollars.  Want to know how to save that much money?...don’t install skateboard prevention mats.  I represent two million skateboarding minions—double the number of disabled in your land.  They could definitely be injured if they were to skate over these dangerous mats and get thrown off their boards into traffic.  You of all people, a Majestic skateboarder of the highest magnitude yourself, should understand that it’s better to have less government intervention, less government spending, and protect more of your minions.

          Ummm...

          I would appreciate a chance at rebuttal, Your Majesty.

          Jeez.  I didn’t think it would take this long.

          Please Majesty?  I will be brief.

          OK.

          My French Canadian opponent spoke as if it skateboarders should never be inconvenienced by dismounting their boards and walking around the safety mats.  Your wheelchair-bound citizens do not have that luxury.  He wants a few young and healthy skateboarders to enjoy a faster-smoother ride.   I’m requesting you assist and protect the weakest of your people, who may not be able to use a winter sidewalk to get to the grocery store.

          Does the French Canadian have a rebuttal for the rebuttal?

          No.  You have enough information to decide. 

          And depending on which way I decide will tell you...?

          Which political party you favor.

          I decide:  Not to install. 

          As any fifteen year-old King would be expected to do.  Which is why we don’t have any youthful monarchies and why you have to be at least 35 years-old to run for President.

          So which party would I favor?

          Republican.  Most juveniles are members of the GOP.

          You seem kinda upset.

          Not upset.  Not really.  It’s just that I’d have voted the other way.  Even when I was fifteen.  I’ve always thought it was very important to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.

          You want to know why I voted not to install?

          Sure.

          Because handicapped people can get up those low curbs without them already.  It seems like an unnecessary added expense.  Like braille instructions on drive-up ATMs and handicapped parking spots in front of a military recruiter’s office.

          Good one. 

          Thanks.

          But all ATMs are the same...some are installed next to driveways...some are installed next to sidewalks.  You aren’t suggesting that blind people shouldn’t be able to use an ATM?

          No.  I bet now you’re gonna tell me the same thing applies to recruiter’s offices?

          Exactly.  The law states public buildings have to reserve a certain percentage of their parking spaces for disabled patrons.  Huge parking lots have a large number of handicapped spaces, tiny parking lots have one space.  It doesn’t matter what the building is used for.  And, just to play devil’s advocate—what about the parent-on-crutches who wants to drive their high schooler to talk about joining the Air Force?  Should they be forced to walk two blocks just because the military doesn’t recruit disabled members?

          Got it.  What about deciding against the safety mats makes me Republican?

          Republicans want less government—which means less laws and less taxes.  Also, Republicans are less interested in protecting minorities and more interested in protecting their own interests...which, in this case, would include a skateboarder assisting other skateboarders.

          Which makes me sound really selfish.  You aren’t addressing the fact that blind people in wheelchairs are already able to get up the curbs. 

          Because it’s specious.  It’s the equivalent of claiming:  same-sex partners can enter into civil unions so they have no reason to obtain marriage licences, or illegal aliens who were brought into the country as infants—who’ve grown up never knowing anything but the United States—should be deported.

          Both are claims made by...?

          Republicans.

          Anything bad about the Democrats?

          I disagree with the Democrats stand on Affirmative Action; I don’t think it is fair to promote or select or accept or award one person above another for any reason besides merit.  I also don’t concur with their party’s policies on:  the PATRIOT act, Israel, NAFTA and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          Sounds like you don’t like any party.

          Independent all the way buddy...every election I vote for the best bad guy of the bunch.

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