The Outstater

March 23, 2023

Matt Dillon to the Rescue

POLITICS IS COMPLICATED. In recent years I have tried to simplify things by focusing on local elections. There’s not much glamor there but the odds are better, a lot better. While we were slogging from door to door for the unavailing Donald Trump, the Left was cashing in with small ball.

“George Soros figured out a clever arbitrage opportunity,” Elon Musk noted last week. “The many small political contests such as district attorneys and judges have much higher impact per dollar spent than the big races, so it is far easier to sway the outcome.” Also it is a lot easier to manufacture phony votes than to earn them.

Being an old fogey who used to be a young fogey I can say it is time to realize that things are different, bad different, and we will have to decide soon what to do about it — all of us, of any age.

In my mind, the choice is between Matt Dillon and Jack Reacher. Dillon, for you younger readers, was the fictional lawman of Dodge City, Kansas, the hero of “Gunsmoke,” the longest running series in television history. Reacher of course is the hero of a detective series by that name in its first season on Amazon’s Prime Video.

Dillon gets his authority from a bunch of ranchers, shop keepers and other struggling settlers, a middle class of sorts. But Reacher is dispatched, or at least was dispatched before being amply pensioned, from the depths of Washington, D.C.

Dillon, in my viewing of the show, never shot anyone dead, although he was clearly capable of doing so when necessary. The intro had him drawing and firing and still standing, the assumption being that the other fellow off camera was not still standing. By the way, he always let the other guy draw first.

Contrast that with Reacher who in episode five shoots three visiting Columbian bad guys in the back. He then stuffs them in a car truck, and in order to make them fit breaks a couple of arms and legs with the appropriate sound effects. Asked why he shot the Columbian visitors, Reacher says, “I had the chance to kill them and I did.” Remember, he is the hero of the show.

Jack Reacher, clearly, is no Matt Dillon, and again that is troublesome. It is so troublesome that I am determined to do what I can to change the situation.

So, will I work to elect a president, senator or congressman? No, the experience of the last few years is that none will be able to change anything much. The political process at the national level, as well as the Constitution itself, has been wrested from them — and from us. We won’t get it back any time soon.

Instead, last week I volunteered as a poll worker for a neighbor running for mayor. Did you know that poll workers, even old fogies, can shift as much as 4 percent of the vote? Tonight, my wife and I are hosting a coffee for him.

If my man is elected, will you get that cushy job in the parks department? Likely not, but I know him to be principled and honest, a serious man with an unerring sense of right and wrong. He will say “no” when it needs to be said.

That last is the rare thing. In a long career I can count on one hand the politicians of whom that could be said. Nonetheless, whenever I come across one I am vowing to join his or her campaign, even if the office is just a constable on the plains or a mayor in the middle of corn fields.

I call it my Gunsmoke strategy, risking that young voters will be turned off by the allusion to firearms or that older ones will suspect something funny is being smoked. Like I said, politics is complicated.— tcl


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