It’s time, Friends, for the fourth installment of Professor J.H. Habermeyer’s eloquent essay about the fortresses local government bureaucracies erect around themselves in their relationship with their own constituents. And what erections they are!
The Fourth Wall
Let us now recapitulate our history of public participation in local government affairs. Public apathy, official obfuscation, physical and bureaucratic intimidation have weeded out almost the entire population of the commonwealth. And yet, to the consternation of the denizens of the citadel, not all have bowed their heads in submission to the purported expertise of the purported experts.
The few survivors who have passed through the bureaucratic gauntlet have not been cowed by process or pabulum. They press their case and may do so effectively. The common local government species known as the gadfly may be dismissed without further ado. These irritants are the boils on the bottom of the body politic who, likely as not, suffer from personal issues of megalomania and narcissism; they are annoying, but not life threatening. The challenge, rather, is with the informed and militant citizen who is demonstrably not suffering from dementia and who, once aroused, is not likely to demur to the “professionals” and who may very well re-appear on particularly inopportune occasion.
What to do?
The answer is to asphyxiate the irritant in a smothering embrace; to draw said miscreant into the circle of government itself by appointing this him to some footling committee or other, thereby causing him to voluntarily silence himself in deference to the grand fraternity to which he has been officially welcomed. He has a name plate; perhaps even a coveted parking space! Many an underdeveloped and agitated ego has been assuaged by such a maneuver and its proprietor thereby silenced.
Even more subtle is the way that the political realm offers its siren song to those recently initiated to the world of public affairs. The electoral process can be counted upon to woo those infected by the virus of newly discovered political ambition. And, if by some strange twist, one of these individuals should be rewarded with electoral success, the chances of a quick devolution into the typical public servant are high, indeed. And why not? Such an individual, unless unusually perspicacious and independent will soon find himself at the mercy of his bureaucracy!
Nothing is quite as demoralizing as the sight of a once independent spirit “going native” as our cousins across the Atlantic refer to the syndrome. And yet it happens all the time. And thus a potential adversary is subsumed into the system.
The Seven Walls of Local Government