Matt Pearl

In our continued search for common-sense truth in society, the year 2020 has brought us what feels like a crossroads.

No, I don’t mean the presidential election. That’s scenery–like the painted trees and doors leading nowhere on the set of a theatrical production. Our leaders engage our interest in the political system every few years, invite us to ride the roller coaster of winning/losing the White House and convince us that by caring about the outcome that we have ‘participated’ in politics.

What I mean is the way information–one of our most abundant, affordable resources in the 21st century–can be manipulated to fit any narrative you choose.

You want to scare folks into voting against a candidate? We have that. Want to add the weight of a crisis to add to your side of the political see-saw? We have that. Want to turn the world upside down with no plan for how to run it once it has flipped? Oh, man, do we have that.

Information used to be power. Now, information is leverage. We’re through the looking glass: would we prefer to do what is right, or to get what we want? Which is more important, satisfying your conscience or filling your wallet? Depends on who you are, I guess.

The danger we are facing now is that two major political parties in this country are looking to fill their pockets, and their primary strategy is to engage your conscience. That’s right: people interested in personal gain are suggesting that you join their campaigns for moral reasons.

I lean to the right on many things and toward the left on others. But one issue upon which I will remain firmly planted in the center is this: There are people of noble intentions in both major parties, and there are people possessing morally bankrupt motives in both major parties.

I don’t want to upset any individual public servants we have out there. I know a couple of the local State Representatives, and they are fine men. I don’t always agree with every stance or vote they take, but that’s life. It means they don’t agree with me, either: I won’t hold it against them if they won’t hold it against me.

Nationally, however, I don’t have much good to say about many of our public servants. It’s tough to serve in a town so full of money and power and not end up engulfed in the appeal each holds. If my wife set the dinner table with a chocolate cake, a plate of cookies, a dish of candy and a tall, cold root beer, it’s likely I would eventually indulge in the consumption of sweets–forsaking the chicken and broccoli I came to the table to eat.

We see candidates wave the flag and state their noble intentions, then elect them and send them to a table set with desserts. The easy solution would be to cut off the sugar supply to our national politicians; or at least limit their time at the table.

My distaste in big politics lately has come to the surface as I have watched one side beat its chest about its genius in dealing with COVID-19, stating that its policies are superior to those proposed by the other side.

The rebuttal argument: if our side had the White House, this thing would have been over faster.

Or, maybe, shut your mouths–all full of cavities from the sugar you’ve eaten at the taxpayers’ table–and quit trying to win an election. You could maybe fight coronavirus or fight for our American health and prosperity. But if all you do is fight one another through all this, I hope your countrymen judge you according to your works. I’m already done with most of Washington; when my kids get rowdy after a bowl of ice cream, I can settle them down using a seat on the couch or by prompting a quiet moment in the corner. Americans can do the same to each of you, and we probably should.

Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers in King City, Albany and Grant City.