Mayor John Marks, Sheriff Larry Campbell, Chief Dennis Jones And State Attorney Willie Meggs…The Good Ol’ Buddies Of Local Politics!
Have you ever heard someone refer to “good ol’ boy” politics? For those of us who grew up in small towns, it is all too familiar.
A Wikipedia entry describes the “good ol’ boy” mentality as a system of social networking and perceptions alleged to exist prevalently among certain communities and social strata in the United States.
In this kind of environment, civic decisions are made, not in a council meeting or by a board of experts, but by cliques of people in back room deals like with Mayor Marks with ADE and Honeywell. Even those in the group who are not part of the in-crowd are pressured to operate along the lines of the good ol’ boy elite. Small-minded individuals with delusions of grandeur, like unscrupulous local politicians, can also practice their own kind of good ol’ boy networking.
The big fish in these small ponds are out there glad-handing and greasing palms every way they can to sway others to their way of thinking. What they don’t realize is the long term social and economic damage they could be doing to the community. If you are lucky, you will never live in the negligent and incompetent corrupt cesspool of heehaw hell known as Tallahassee or Leon County. It’s been unfortunate for some people like Rachel Hoffman.
In today’s economy a community cannot afford a reputation for being run by good ol’ boy politics. The world is a much smaller place, partly due to the Internet, and negative publicity brought on by a back-door deal (Mayor John Marks Of Honeywell and ADE Corruption) could wind up costing a municipality valuable community support.
It takes only one vote to defeat a school or municipal operating levy. The wrong word to the right person is all it takes to influence a company chairperson’s decision to locate a new plant in someone else’s town instead of yours.
Most of the time the individuals involved in good ol’ boy politics can scarcely function outside their home environment. Take Willie Meggs for example as a Corrupt Local State Attorney. Powerless and unknown, they squirm and wriggle against the mainstream world where they are just a face in the crowd.
As a result, they focus on accumulating as much power as possible right where they are, often at the expense of long-standing, incorruptible community-serving people. The self-inspired omnipotence of these people is often shocking to outsiders.
When most city folks think of small town politics, it’s not Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry that comes to mind – more often it’s Boss Hogg (ie: The Dukes of Hazzard). During the 1970′s television and movie producers made millions exploiting the dirty dealings of down-home public servants in programs like Dukes.
To be fair, the good ol’ boy mentality is not limited to small town USA. The same kind of back-door dealing goes on in big city business, county commission chambers, school board meeting rooms and even churches.
Remember the cliques you knew in school? Those people have all grown up now and still desperately need to be part of that kind of self-satisfying, artificially-generated social circle. Then again, some people who are drawn to small-town stardom were just the opposite in their youth.
Sometimes the school outcasts, nerds, or whatever you want to call them, are blindly driven to attain power and notoriety in their old hometown. If they weren’t accepted back then they will be now, whether you like it or not, and they will be in charge this time. Sounds a little psychotic, doesn’t it?
So what has all of this got to do with you? If you’re reading this, you probably live in a Tallahassee, Leon County or a small town (my column doesn’t get published in the New Yorker – yet). This kind of activity is going on all around you and you should be aware of it.
Good ol’ boy politics affects all of us at some time or another – and it could be identified as a “good ol’ girl” mentality too – the sexes are quite even in this case. Everyone is susceptible to it and generally fear keeps people from speaking up.
The fear comes from peer pressure. If anyone speaks openly against those “in charge” the repercussions can be swift and painful – not in a physical sense, but through social chastising. Although, there are those who are afraid for their personal safety and that of their home and family should they defy the powers that be.
Good ol’ boy politics promote egocentric, self-serving small town politicians, elitist service organizations teaming with cliques and chambers of commerce that snub the services of their own member businesses – all of which are retardant to a region with great potential. If our towns are going to grow and survive the economic upheaval that hit the nation over the last year, this kind of behavior has to end.