Columns

Vote Casey – Ted Prokash

So my best friend Casey ran for mayor. And lo! how he excited us all with his brazen optimism! His heroic-pragmatic dedication to one small town sans-pity! His sturdy midwestern-phallus energy! Us–a small collection of ex-punk rockers, expatriate authors, 60s counter-culture holdovers and who have you. Freak Power rides again.

But, in the end, not so much. Casey excited others too. Rather predictably, sadly, a campaign to lead a city of 3,500, with an annual budget that wouldn’t support a girls’ summer league softball team, devolved into an embarrassing facebook row cum small town matrix. Show yourself, varmint! Trump sign on lawn, or no Trump sign on lawn! You must have at least this many decals threatening violence on your truck, or you’re some kinda hippie faggot! Asinine, yes, but not entirely surprising.

The opposition was some guy in a camouflage dress shirt and baseball cap who had served a previous stint as alderman and quit his post in a snit. He proposed some vague platform of “lowering taxes.” He would do just fine to oppose Casey. A sort of reverse Biden.

But there, see, now I’m doing it. That’s the crux of this whole thing: people just have the wrong idea. People spend their time and energy worrying about the wrong things. But then, I guess that’s life, idnit, mate?

Casey has served as alder of my ward for four years. He previously organized the farmers’ market in town. (Boy, I bet he made out like a bandit on that one!) He wrangled up the battalion of war-time authors for the famous Cultural Happening of Harvest ‘22 that gave our city an esoteric little thrill at a reasonable price. He’s never failed to engage the public. We’re a small town here. I can’t count the number of times we’ve gone to our only local grocery store and had one of the kids say, “there’s Casey, talking to…somebody.” He talks to everybody. He actually cares about this bumfuck municipality. Enough to go to work for it. And don’t get any funny ideas, the stipend we afford our alderman, or the mayor, for that matter, is not enough to live on. For a couple weeks, maybe. Local governance around here is purely a passion project.

It was precisely Casey’s willingness to engage all parties that precipitated the contentious culmination of his wild campaign. He put out a facebook post. I’m posted up, at such and such a local diner, from 11 – 3, willing to answer any and all questions regarding my candidacy, whatever they may be. Come one come all! What ensued was an online barrage of name-calling, personal attacks and false accusations that would have been hilarious had it not been hurtful to someone I love. Okay, it was hilarious anyway. I’ll refrain from commenting on the character of Casey’s online detractors–but rest assured, I could. Like I said, it’s a small town and I’ve lived here all my life. In the end, no one had the guts to actually show up and talk to Casey face to face. Typical.

The aforementioned attacks amounted to: You use big words! You’re a fancy politician! You’re unemployed! (Casey is a father, microgreen farmer, poet laureate, civil servant, and musician) So basically, a lot of hogwarsh. But Casey stayed above the fray, even when his family was attacked. Dammnit, you are a bastion of equanimity and class, Casey Buhr!

I can’t help but think that that old Cheeto-orange totem of the championing of some mirage of an identity was at the heart of these attacks. It’s not a wild guess; Casey’s detractors were quick to point to his professed aversion to Trump as proof that he would be unfit to represent our community. He’s not a fan of Trump? Well, Jesus Christ, nail him up now. We’d be having the same fight if Casey came out and said the whole Marvel Universe is soma for mouth-breathers. Shit’s not relevant, Bro! We’re trying to run a small fishing village here; trying to cull a few tourists from Door County and maybe put something in our abandoned factory buildings; fill pot holes and keep the heat on in our fucking schools. Jeesh.

Again, it’s frustrating, but it’s not surprising. It’s why I quit voting in national elections. It’s the same conclusion reached by Mencken, Bukowski, Sam Pink and a million other commentators. It’s frustrating that someone so intelligent, passionate and articulate about, and dedicated to something so important and potentially beneficial to society as a whole would be so easily stymied by ignorance and apathy. That being said…has everyone bought my book?

Haha. You see where I’m going with this? The fact of the matter is: whether your crusade chooses you, or you choose it, you’ve still got to have the balls to get up and go. It’s not going to be easy–you’re signing up for the slings and arrows–but it will sometimes be fun. Remember, if it all gets to be too much, there are ports you can jump off at along the way. And you can always come back home. Hopefully your own don’t shoot you dead like the Russians did theirs in World War II.

Casey didn’t win, by the way, if you haven’t gathered that yet. He did make a pretty good showing. Now if you’ll excuse me, this is my day off and I’m about 29K words into my next novel, a sprawling, prosaic epic following one family from the farm fields of Bohemia to a stubborn modern existence in a small town on the stormy banks of Lake Michigan. I’ll make sure to let you know when it’s available for purchase. Just in case.

Here’s to literacy and the hard work of sane legislation.