Saturday, October 12, 2013

LAST CHANCE!! JOIN NOW!! MeanMesa's Fabulous New 501C4: MAPPEMAJIC

How do these people -- even possibly --
 ever wind up in the Congress?
Here's a little fantasy from the MeanMesa "horror collection."
 It will explain everything.

This tale begins as a "family matter."

My wife demanded that I accompany my brother-in-law to some kind of political rally in near-by  Buffalo Junction.  She insisted that I go in order to keep her brother, Harold, a 50's something Tea Party zealot, from simply getting drunk, arrested and lost for a week -- his usual pattern on out of town visits.

Grudgingly I packed some underwear and my sports coat along with a spare pair of more or less presentable black loafers.  At least our expenses for the trip were being paid for by Harold's new campaign sponsor.  Harold dutifully appeared at our house at 7:30 AM sharp, fairly sober but dressed in an awful pair of checked trousers and a slightly soiled Polo shirt -- a shirt which did painfully little to disguise the man's giant belly.

Off we went.

Amazingly, Harold had arrived in a new band new Buick to make the 200 mile trip.  "Did someone loan you a car, Harold?"

"Nope.  This lil' beauty's all mine.  My campaign bought it for me as a gift." he answered, driving away unsteadily.  "Ain't no secret thet I'll have to drive all over to talk to mah voters."

Now, Harold had run in every election for County Commissioner since the 1980's, losing every time, and, in fact, losing every time by a larger and larger margin.  My wife had told me that Harold was considering a run as a Tea Party Republican in our district's primary for the US House of Representatives, but I had given the news very little thought after that.

The precise reason that Harold kept losing elections was because he had no support, no policy ideas and a really bad reputation as a hollow blow-hard. His understanding of governing was limited to a few, usually mangled, talking points he had picked up from right wing radio. Our neighbors, in fact, had always considered him something of a nuisance.  I had never met a single voter who would admit to ever voting for him a single time, much less one who might have thought he had something to offer the local government.

The next election was still more than a year away, and my hope was that after this conference or whatever it was Harold might just change his mind and be reconciled with just watching FOX on television, drinking beer and, being perpetually unemployed, living on his wife's money.  And, after my "little errand" of baby sitting him for this meeting, I would return home to a grateful wife.

However, the conversation in the car rapidly grew very disturbing.

"You must have found some campaign donors, I guess."  I offered as casual conversation.

"Don't yew wurry nun about thet.  I found me a campaign donor, got mah' campaign all financed real good, 'n I plan to walk away with that House seat.

Mah' donor's payin' fer this here conference so's I'll be able to win thet 'lection when th' tahm cums."  Harold grumbled, easing the car into the fast lane.

Harold's false Southern accent had always puzzled me. To my knowledge he had never even left the state, much less ever travelled to the South.  He had begun speaking this way when George W. Bush had been appointed to the Presidency by the Supreme Court.

"Ah alreddy know thet 'afore I start talkin' public, Ah'm gonna' hef to read this heah little book mah donor give me so's Ah'll know fer sure whut I think 'bout stuff. If Ah kin do thet okay, mah donor's got a plan fer everything else -- he keeps sayin' thet redistrictin's comin' up on account o' thu census 'n all jest afore my 'lection."  Harold rambled.

"Gosh.  That sounds pretty good.  Who is this donor?"  I asked.

"Oh shore.  Naturlly yew wann'a know thet!  Wahl, thet raht theah's one of thu rules.  Ah don't evah tell no one who mah donor is.  Just figger thet he's a good whaht Chrishtun patriot.  Thet's all yeew need t' know."  Harold snapped.

The rest of the ride was peacefully silent.  Harold, usually a tragically insecure ne'er do well, seemed to be suddenly sporting an unanticipated optimism.

Mile 41 Motel
After half a dozen confused circles around the center of Buffalo Junction, Harold finally located the cross street, recklessly accelerating his new Buick down the back street toward the motel meeting room hosting the conference.  In minutes we were making our way through a half empty parking lot to the meeting room, a fairly dilapidated place pretentiously announced on a the surviving ruins of a small, haggard, sun bleached sign as the "Highway 41 Motel -- Conference Forum."

I was grateful that Harold's campaign donor was at least providing us separate rooms at the dump.

After checking in, an embarrassingly excited Harold herded me toward the meeting along a long, seedy hall way.  An over dressed man sat at a reception desk near the door of the meeting room.  Directly behind him, I saw an over sized sign advertising the group hosting the meeting.

Harold drew a business card from his jacket pocket, comparing it to the sign behind the reception desk.  "This is it!!  This raht heah's MAPPEMAJIC!!  We'r at the raht place!"  he exploded. "These folks gonna' fix it so's I kin win thu 'lection!!"

He immediately began scrawling his name, address and a few other items on the official registration form.  When he had finished, he stared blankly at the broadly smiling man at the reception desk, pointed his thumb at me and said "This heah's mah aid.  Ah ain't registerin' him."

The greeter responded with a knowing smile, "Of course.  You two can go right on in."
Harold was ecstatic.

Once we were in the meeting room it became clear that Harold was to join a line of strangely similar "new candidates" for "additional registration procedures."  No one seemed to mind if I tagged along next to him, however, the raucous mood which prevailed around the rest of the gathering had changed into a far more somber, executive business meeting atmosphere.

Harold was suddenly surrounded by a group of men in expensive suits, apparently lawyers.  One of them was explaining the arrangements which had been made to provide "MAPPEMAJIC election services" to get Harold through the candidate nomination process.

"We're going to pay plenty to get your state legislators to gerrymander a Congressional District where you can win your primary, so, our...uh... investors want to be sure that you'll 'remember' them once you're elected."  one of the lawyers rambled.  "Just sign here, and head on to the next station."

Harold scrawled his name on the paper with absolutely no hesitation.  It was unusual for him to act so confidently.  The over sized advertising signs were everywhere, but I couldn't tell if Harold even noticed -- much less read any of them.

Harold, for the first time, looked puzzled.  "I shore plan to 'member mah donor all raht, but how a'mah gonna know whut thet donor wants me t' do?  Ah don't even know whut his name is yet."

Suddenly everything was becoming clear.  Harold didn't have any idea who was "footing the bill" to hire MAPPEMAJIC or paying for his campaign.

The lawyer responded fluidly.  "Don't worry.  We've already prepared a list of staff members you'll be needing once you get to Washington.  They'll be able to tell what your...uh...donor thinks about bills and issues."

The next "station" was a very business-like group of "image consultants."  While one bunch measured Harold for his new wardrobe of suits, shirts and ties, another group was "inventorying" the physical improvements that would be necessary for his new role in the national spot light.

Handing him the already prepared round trip tickets for his flight to the secret candidate "fix it farm" in California, one quietly explained what all would be done.  "You'll be getting a mouth full of brand new teeth from a full set of dental implants, and you're going to have nice head of hair once the doctors have finished with the replacement surgery.  We're setting a preliminary weight loss target at 40 pounds, but don't worry, these guys know how to do that so you'll never feel a thing."

As we moved to the next table, Harold, smiling broadly now, turned to me and said, "Ah'm gonna look so 'Congreshinyul' thet neetha' yew nor thet damned bitchin' wahf o' mine's even gonna' recogonahz me!"

Another group of "suits" had just finished with the man in line before us.  He was clearly some kind of rancher or farmer. Dressed in boots and a worn out cowboy hat, he kept spitting chewing tobacco every few seconds.  As Harold and I approached their table, the man seated there fumbled to find Harold's file in a box of folders.

Opening the papers in the manner of an accountant, he reviewed Harold's accounts.  He withdrew a cashier's check from amid the papers and laid it carefully on the table top.  "I see that your donor has prepaid your MAPPEMAJIC membership dues.  You just need to endorse this check, and we can add you to our official client list."

Harold clumsily took the ball point the man offered, and endorsed the back of the check.  As he turned it over, I peered over his shoulder just long enough to see the check's face.  It was a cashier's check made out to "MAPPEMAJIC election services" in Harold's name for $1,000,000.  On the "subject" line were only the cryptic words: "for services rendered."

"Of course there will be an additional payment due once you win the election," the accountant explained, "but your 'campaign donor' has already signed a promissary note for that expense.   After that there will just be the annual dues of $275,000, but you should be able to pay those easily from your political 'war chest.'  It only sounds like a lot of money because you haven't had time to get used to it yet."

After reviewing Harold's file, the accountant was satisfied that everything was complete.  He pointed to the audience area of folding chairs, "Go ahead and find a couple of good seats for the short presentation of MAPPEMAJIC client services.  Welcome aboard!"

The convention's speaker introduced himself and quickly referred the attention of the motley crowd of future Congressmen to the giant wall board directly behind him.

Harold whispered to me, "Am Ah 'spossed to unnerstan' thet?"

Before I could answer, the speaker had gone on to explain that these election districts had already been gerrymandered by MAPPEMAJIC so client candidates who otherwise had no chance of ever being elected would win elections and become Congressmen.  Harold immediately understood.

"Now that you are all MAPPEMAJIC members, we intend to do exactly the same thing for you!  Just think of yourselves on the night following election day.  You have already packed your socks and clean underwear for your victorious trip to Washington, D.C. where you will be Congressmen!"  he continued.  "MAPPEMAJIC is a complicated thing to call this, but that just keeps everyone who isn't here guessing!"

"We just think of ourselves as a sort of 'election district map design' organization.  There are plenty of voters out there ready to elect you guys. Once our newly designed district boundaries are in place, none of you will have the problem of all the voters in your new district who won't vote for you. Your Congressional success is just around the corner!"

The excitement among the strange group in the audience was palpable.  Harold, himself, was clearly lost in a haze of an imaginary fantasy where his teeth were straight, and he was wearing the fine new suits which were practically already waiting for him in Washington.

"When you're walking through the halls of the Capitol, everyone's going to think you're important!" the salesman delivering the talk droned on for almost an hour.  "There will be fancy dinners in fancy restaurants, nice cars driving you around and a great office right down the street from the White House!  And, of course, women."

The over weight hill billies in the audience gasped, salivating.  Noting this, the speaker jumped right back to the point.

"Those Washington, D.C. women are attracted to a powerful man, and when I say 'powerful man,' I'm talking about you!"  he added, sealing the deal.  "So get out there and get ready for your election campaigns!  Remember who your friends are!  And, remember to mention MAPPEMAJIC to folks with the same ideas that you have!" 

The road trip back from Buffalo Junction was a nightmarish torture. I finally tuned the Buick's radio into a AM FOX station and watched Harold's eyes glaze.

Additional MeanMesa reading on this topic:

A Mathematician Redistricts Congress

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