Should I Write About the Candidates for Mayor?
It sure has gotten quiet here on Room Eight. Perhaps those who once posted here regularly have spoken their piece after seven years. Perhaps they’ve decided to clam up because they are hoping for a job in the next administration, and don’t want to tick anybody off. Perhaps it’s hard to come home to a hobby that involves typing and calculating when your job is the same.
While waiting for the next spark of inspiration, I’ve been wresting with the question in the title. I don’t know the candidates for Mayor, and they don’t know me. The press coverage has been vacuous, the “policy statements” not much better. Neither get to the core of the question – when push comes to shove, who will be asked to make what sacrifices when, and why, and for what goals? When I’ve written about something publicly, I’ve known what I was talking about. I could be wrong, but it don’t consider it likely. With regard to the candidates for Mayor, what I have is impressions – things that have been said or done that stuck with me as indicative of broader values. Because for me that’s what it’s about – values. Not celebrity or personality or which tribe gets to suck out more or put in less at the expense of the other tribes, and the common future. Does it make sense for me to put forth my limited knowledge for the benefit of those who know even less? Or better to keep my mouth shut?
How bad is it? Here is a quote from someone I know, who unlike me is registered with one of the two main political tribes. “I was thinking of voting for Quinn because I thought it might be interesting to have a Chinese Mayor, but it turns out she isn’t Chinese.” “There is someone running who is Chinese.” “Never heard of him.”
But everyone has heard of Anthony Weiner. And everyone knows what is going on with A-Rod.
And remember, Mayor is the office that New Yorkers are most likely to pay attention to, behind the President. Is it any wonder the bums in the state legislature are so indifferent to anyone but the small number of self interest groups at their fund raisers? And get away with what they do, until they go to jail. If people abandon their obligations as citizens in a democracy, we no longer have one.
Talking about individual people always seems like gossip to me. Those in the political world seem to love it. I do not. To me it’s about what, not about who. So I may or may not take the time to write up some incomplete and perhaps inaccurate impressions of the candidates over Labor Day Weekend, if I have the time. Until then, better to fill the blog space with some quotes from Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and philosopher.
Do not waste what remains of your life thinking about other people, if these thoughts bear no relation to some common good. Why imagine what so-and-so is doing and why, what he is saying, thinking or contriving, and other things as keep you from observing your own directing reason? The sequence of your thoughts should avoid vain and random fancies, interference, and malice above all. You must accustom yourself to think only such thoughts as would enable you, when asked what you are thinking, to frankly answer “this” or “that.” Your answer would make it clear that all your thoughts were simple and kind, as becomes a social being who is not concerned with pleasures or any sensuous delights of the imagination, or with rivalry, slander, suspicion, or anything else you would blush to reveal you had in mind.
Such a man no longer puts off joining the company of the best; he has the right relationship with the spirit established within him, which makes him a man uncorrupted by pleasure, unwounded by pain, untouched by violence, immune to evil and a contender for the greatest prize, which is: not to be overcome by any passion, to be deeply steeped in justice; to welcome one’s lot and portion with one’s whole soul; rarely, and then only when the common good makes it imperative, to imagine what another may be saying, doing or thinking.
The empty pursuit of triumphal parades, the dramas of the stage, flocks and herds, battles with the spear, a bone thrown into fish tanks, the calamities and burdens of ants, the scurryings of excited mice, puppets jerked by strings – amidst these you must stand with kindliness and without insolence, but realizing that the worth of each depends on the worth of his pursuits.
So are we going to elect a Marcus Aurelius? Or a Nero? Is the fact that most are content to be puppets jerked by strings an obstacle to be overcome by those who wish them well, or an opportunity to take advantage of for those who just want to get ahead? I think I’m pretty well positioned to avoid the damage either way, but I worry about those who are not.