Someone has said, “If it is dark enough, one candle is plenty.” In the midst of numerous, spot, flood, and flashing neon lights, it is not dark enough for the lowly candle to command much attention.
Such is the case of a letter to the editor in the Daily Citizen. The first test is that it must be 250 words or less; these 250 words must express ideas that compete with 550 to 900 words allowed the predominantly conservative columnist, often two each day, along with a 20 column-inch Vic Harville editorial cartoon. (By-the-way 250 words occupy only about 6 column-inches).
Following the size disparity is the “Local Interest” dilemma. Are National political issues of local interest? What about State issues? Are we stuck with commenting on Searcy’s attempts at resolving the A and P tax fiasco?
Conservative columnist Kathryn Lopez’s 756 words disparaging even moderate liberals must be of local interest. What about toy store manager and conservative columnist Daniel Kline’s 570 words degrading the President or Steve Brawner’s 582 words about nothing in particular.
Albeit angry the electorate faces serious choices in November; serious enough to require thoughtful consideration of what’s really going on, not just exposure to more and more right-wing fluff and misinformation. The question is, will we stick with that which is working or go back to the policies and politics that put us in this situation to begin with?
I was a member of the Southside High School basketball team in 1954; we were not the best team in the county by any means, but we held our own, winning more than we lost. Desha on the other hand, had an undefeated team. Their players were bigger, taller, and although academically challenged (according to our coach) highly skilled in the basketball arts. It was apparent to most observers that they would certainly take the County if not the State championship. Everyone on the team feared playing them.
A week before the dreadful game, our coach called us together for a meeting. He explained that our placement in the county tournament brackets would depend on our standing with Desha and that favorable placement would give us an opportunity to at least place in the county tournament. “Our strategy will be to keep Desha’s score low and the point spread small. We’ll do that by stalling the game,” he said.
All week we practiced holding the ball, staying back from the goal while tossing the ball back and forth and generally running time off the clock. By game time we were well-practiced in delay tactics.
The game was remarkably easy; the delay was a total surprise to the Desha team and frustrated the players. To try to force a turnover they had to abandon their normal zone defense. Some people in the bleachers kept yelling “Play Ball!” while we stalled. At halftime the score was 6 to 4. “It’s like a football score,” someone remarked.
We didn’t win but Desha’s score was a record low and the point spread was small. It was probably the best game that we didn’t play all year. Our enhanced standing had nothing to do with our basketball skills.
That game years ago is much like that being played by the GOP in congress today. Our team didn’t participate in the game of skill and the GOP is not participating in the legislative process – just delay, blockage, and catcalls from the bleachers. There is no doubt that our game would have been better for everyone if we had actually played and there is little doubt that progress would be better and faster if the GOP leaders in the Senate would seriously participate. The healthcare bill would have been better and the financial regulation reforms would be better with constructive participation by the Republicans in Congress.
Desha won the County Championship and did well in the State competition. My team didn’t place in the county tournament. The memory of that season is among my least favorite and marks a low point in the pride for my high school years. –CP