Whenever I see that someone has said something insanely stupid, I often check the source and try to dig deeper to make sure there’s not more to the story than meets the eyes. So I was initially skeptical when I heard that Governor Bev Purdue said the following:
“You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things. I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. The one good thing about Raleigh is that for so many years we worked across party lines. It’s a little bit more contentious now but it’s not impossible to try to do what’s right in this state. You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”
Surely she can’t be serious. A sitting governor could not possibly be advocating the suspension of elections, could she?
Well her team went into immediate spin mode and claimed that she was just exaggerating.
Later Tuesday afternoon, Perdue’s office clarified the remarks: “Come on,” said spokeswoman Chris Mackey in a statement. “Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.”
Only she wasn’t exaggerating, she was being sarcastic.
“My point was one of sarcasm,” Perdue told reporters in Thomasville. “We really just need to encourage our leaders who are elected to work together and solve America’s problems.”
Only she wasn’t being sarcastic, she was actually just taken out of context.
She added: “It was taken out of context from my perspective. But honest to goodness, who would think something like that would be said seriously. It’s ridiculous to have this kind of discussion about it.”
Only she wasn’t taken out of context, she was under the mind control of an alien from the Xorgon Galaxy.
Okay, I made the last part up, but then again Governor Purdue seems to be making up excuses as we go along here.
Whether we believe that she was joking, was being sarcastic, or had been taken out of context – and for the record I would suggest: not really, kind of, and are you kidding me? – this is one of those gaffes that could be a career killer. As the saying goes, a gaffe is when a politician speaks the truth, or in the case when a politician speaks the truth it’s a gaffe. I’m sure Purdue isn’t dumb enough to think that anyone would go along with a suggestion to suspend elections next year, but she obviously believes that something like that is what we need to get the country going. Damn the people and their desire to hold elected leaders accountable.
I’m the last person to get behind political populism, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tolerate people who want to disregard the burdens of republican government. Sure it would be nice to live in a fantasy world where our enlightened leaders nobly guide us out of the darkness after months if not years of serious contemplation. But we dwell in the real world, and we need to have some mechanism to hold elected officials accountable. Sure the people can be fickle, but that doesn’t mean we remove the citizenry from the process.
At the heart of this comment – sarcastic or not – is the believe that Governor Purdue and her ilk know better than you poor proles. If they can just have the freedom to ignore the rabble, then surely they’d be able to compromise and all would be well. I’m sure life in Governor Purdue’s imaginary world is very pleasant, what with the dancing unicorns and people gathered together in the lush meadows, holding hands and singing melodiously. But here on planet Earth we have a political class busy tweeting pictures of their private parts. Excuse me if I don’t think the solution to our woes is to blindly hand off the keys and let the kiddies in Congress cruise around unsupervised. They got us into this mess, and something tells me that without adult supervision they don’t have the means to get us out.