Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why you should be involved in politics

Let me tell you a story. This story is about a parakeet, a parakeet named Flip. Flip lived in a nondescript town on the plains of Nebraska, one of many such towns that dot the landscape of America- only one way in, only one way out; people had to go to the general store to get their mail; and "fancy dining" meant heading 35 miles out of town to grab a burger at McDonald's.

Flip lived in a small efficiency apartment above a pizzeria. It wasn't a bad place to live, except for the occasions when Luigi and his wife got to arguing about how much the grocery bill was. To pay the rent Flip worked at a small UHF station on the outskirts of town, a station which covered about three miles all around. He hosted an after-school TV show called Flip's Amazing Cartoon Cavalcade. Decent work in a town where employment was hard to come by.

But Flip had a dream. The small-town life was cramping his style. He yearned to spread his wings and be free. He longed for a more fulfilling calling. He wanted to be President of the United States. Sure, people scoffed at his dream. "A parakeet? For President?" They laughed at him, not with him.

One day he was hosting the Cavalcade and had just introduced Patty and the Gentle Gigolo when he went out back to grab a smoke. As he sucked at the sweet, oxygen-depriving, life-destroying herb, two men in sunglasses came up to talk to him, one on each side. They had a deal for Flip- they saw how popular he was among viewers of Flip's Amazing Cartoon Cavalcade, and they thought that he would be a perfect candidate for the office of President.

Flip couldn't believe it. The Presidency! He barely had time to squawk "Yes!" before he had to go inside and introduce the latest installment of Stinky and Smelly the Diaper Twins. He was on his way. He stared out the window on his short drive home and began to imagine the possibilities. He would finally be able to shed the position of third-rate TV host and reach for the stars!

The next two years were long and arduous. Flip criss-crossed the land on his "Flip for Flip!" tour, shaking hands and kissing babies across the United States. His popularity began to skyrocket, even after his "chicken in every pot" comment drew the ire of the poultry population of the South. People saw in Flip a new start for the country. And when Election Day came upon us, and he was elected by an overwhelming majority, he told the crowd at the hotel where he was staying that they too, if they dreamed long enough and worked hard enough, could achieve their dreams, just as he had.

But Flip had a problem. You see, he was a parakeet, and parakeets have very small hearts. They can't handle the stress of the modern political process. So not long after the inauguration, when Flip was jogging through the garden surrounded by a phalanx of reporters, he clutched his chest and fell over dead. The Vice-President, one Snidely Doowrong, took the oath of office an hour later, swearing to uphold the Constitution and all that jazz. But no one expected that Flip would just up and die, so when it came time to choose a running mate, they chose a buffoon. A moron. A total idiot. Snidely drove the country into the ground and then, to take the attention off of him, started a war with nuclear weapons-bearing countries. The war did not end well and soon the entire country lay dead.

So the moral of the story is this. Be involved in the political process. Vote your conscience. Study the issues and cast your vote for whomever you think is the right man or woman for the job. Vote for Condaleeza Rice, or John McCain. Vote for John Kerry or Wesley Clark. Vote for Hillary Clinton, Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, Donald Rumsfeld, Howard Dean or Barack Obama...

...but never Flip the Bird.


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