THE PLURIBUS PARTY
Another Hillnutt Pluribus Party entry
In case you need a little primer about Hillnutt, you are encouraged to get a little background in the Welcome To Hillnutt! article. Go ahead….I’ll wait. Back already? Good. Now that you know a little about the town, let’s get down to business on how the Pluribus Party came to be. And if you are wondering about the truthfulness of what you are about to read, you can take another side trip here.
WHY IT ALL BEGAN
In October 2014, a seat on the Hillnutt Public Works Commission suddenly became open when Commissioner Don Sherman had to suddenly resign due to reported health reasons. At least that was the “official” explanation. It became apparent that something was not quite right with Sherman when he attended the previous Commission meeting wearing only his boxer shorts and a football helmet. According to Sherman, he believed his best meeting suit had been meticulously bugged by the Chinese and, as a result, caused him to continually misplace his houseshoes. Unfortunately, his bizarre behavior seemed only to escalate. On several occasions he was cited for disorderly conduct for flinging frozen waffles at cars passing by his house, claiming that he was simply following the Lord’s command to feed the hungry (he finally had to spend a week in jail after he added bottles of syrup as part of his devotional deliveries). Seeing that his behavior was becoming more unpredictable, Mayor Abernathy and the other members of the council felt they had no choice but to force him to resign. And while many in the community were concerned about Sherman’s health predicament, there was some relief when within a few months following his dismissal from the council, he once again served the community by being selected as the Chairman of the Bryton County Republican Party.
Of course, with Sherman’s dismissal from the Public Works Commission, an open seat was now available and in need of filling. This meant that Hillnutt would need to hold a special election to fill the vacant seat. Traditionally, the Democrats and Republicans would each select a candidate and it would be up to the voters to decide the winner. However, in 2015, neither party was in the best shape. Claude Richter, a life long Democrat and prior Mayor, seemed to be the likely candidate for his party. However, Richter already had three felony charges and the Democrats were not too keen in having him as their person of choice. Other Democrats that might have been potential candidates said they could not run for the vacant council position due to not having the finances to withstand an election run or were facing felony charges themselves. Fearing that the Democratic Party would not have anyone on the ballot, party members breathed a sigh of relief when Arnold Muskmellon stepped into the country courthouse and filed papers to be placed as a Democratic candidate on the ballot. In an interesting twist of fate, Muskmellon had actually gone to the courthouse to buy new tags for his fishing boat and mistakenly entered the wrong office and filled out the wrong paperwork. At least the Democrats would have someone on the ballot.
The Republican Party was not faring much better. The GOP’s most likely candidate for the position was Tim Schott, a person best known for urinating in several potholes on Main Street to publicize the crumbling infrastructure in Hillnutt. He was also a well-known deacon at First Baptist Church. But the reluctance of the Republican Party to put forth his nomination is most likely due to him characterizing the current GOP as the “party of pussies” to a group of third-graders during a “How Government Works” presentation. Other potential Republican candidates failed to put their hats in the ring because the council position didn’t pay enough. A local resident, fearing that the door was now open for a clear Democratic victory, decided that it would not be American if a Republican was left off the ballot. Thus, Harvey Beechslap decided he would do his civic duty and placed his hat into the ring. Acknowledging that he had no political experience and had no clue as to the duties of a Public Works Commissioner, Mr. Beechslap strongly believed that all elections should involve a choice. With minutes to spare, he completed the necessary paperwork to enter the election, ensuring that the Republican Party would indeed be represented.
So for the first time in Hillnutt history, an election was about to be had and neither the Democrats or Republicans would have a truly viable candidate.
However, amid this chaos, the beginnings of something different began to take shape. Something new that could be felt but hard to explain, something akin to that sense of empowerment and confidence you experience soon after having sex on a new mattress. The long tradition of the “good ol’ boys” carrying the political torch would not be a major part of this election. The familiar players had left the stadium and somebody from the bench was gonna be called up. As it turns out, it was some of the town’s young adults who took it upon themselves to fill the void and create a new tradition. And two new parties.
Alice Malice, Hillnutt Avon salesperson of the year for the past five years, increasingly expressed concerns to her friends about the general lack of leadership in the upcoming election. Only four years removed from graduating third in her high school class, Ms. Malice did not let her youth stand in the way of letting folks know her opinion. In high school, she was president of the “Bomb the Commies Club” in addition to being the activities director for Vacation Bible School at Second Baptist Church. Given the lackluster Republican candidate in the election, she feared a Democratic victory and publicly vowed that she was not going to allow those “granola eating motherfuckers” to take over the town. Sensing a call to duty to protect all that was “right” in Hillnutt, she completed the necessary paperwork with minutes to spare and entered the race under the banner of the newly formed Tea Bag Party. Spouting credentials such as being able to bait a hook, drives a Ford truck (standard shift), and has an uncle who served somewhere in Vietnam, Alice Malice was going to make sure this election was not going to be business as usual.
About the same time Ms. Malice was plotting her steps towards victory, another young Hillnutt resident was having concerns about the upcoming election. Buddy Stump grew up in the unincorporated area around Hillnutt in an area known as “The Clump,” a haphazard collection of trailers and mobile homes. Young Mr. Stump believed that someone needed to champion those who were often left behind and didn’t have a voice in the sociopolitical world. Believing that he could make Hillnutt a better place to live, he banded together with like-minded souls and fellow World of Warcraft players to form the Blue Lentil Party. On the final day of filing, Mr. Stump officially became a candidate. “Whoa, dude” became the party’s official slogan.
With only a month to campaign, all four candidates wasted no time in making their case to the voters. And with four candidates and four parties to choose from, the voters were having to adjust to this new scenario. In the past, it had always been a Democrat versus a Republican. But currently, there was nothing special about either party candidate. Add to the mix two brand new political parties, the citizens of Hillnutt were besides themselves. Should one vote for the established parties even though neither candidate was a strong representative? Would a vote for one of the new parties actually go against a better candidate? [By the way, a future post will focus on voting so stay tuned]
As the campaign progressed, it became obvious that people began taking sides. Of course, this is common in most elections. However in this case, people were taking sides and yet still felt uncomfortable. Ms. Malice of the Tea Bag Party spent a lot of the campaign going door to door, asking residents to vote for her and not that “wimp-ass Beechslap” because he wasn’t truly a conservative. Plus, a vote for the other candidates would be just the same as voting for ISIS, according to Ms. Malice. And though he wouldn’t win any awards for assertiveness, Beechslap wasn’t a bad guy even though he had trouble articulating the standard GOP platform. Blue Lentil candidate Stump passed out condoms with the Blue Lentil Party logo (which happens to also be a condom). Many of the older folks in town thought this was a bit shameful. However, Stump would explain to them that he was actually trying to keep the youth from making life-changing mistakes. He would then offer to mow their yards, leading some senior citizens to rethink their negative thoughts about Mr. Stump.
As for the standard bearers for the Democratic and Republican parties, they did campaign but they just weren’t that great at it. Being political novices, they often found themselves in awkward situations. Plus it didn’t help that neither party endorsed or provided support or guidance. For the Democrat Muskmellon, he frequently became nervous when speaking in public and threw up a lot. One day, he was asked to be a guest on the Harry Brewer Show (a local access reality show) for what he thought was an opportunity to talk about his credentials and the positive things he could do as the new Public Works Commissioner. Unfortunately, he found himself smack dab in the middle of an episode titled “I Told That Bitch Don’t Be Getting Up In My Stuff.” Entertaining television? Yes. Good for his campaign? I wouldn’t say that.
All in all, the good citizens of Hillnutt became more and more confused. None of the four candidates were actually “bad” people but they didn’t instill a lot of confidence either. When people become confused, they tend to be a bit more anxious. In turn, it is very easy to be a bit more snippy and impatient with other people. It was not uncommon for many of the townsfolk to argue with one another publically. Something was amiss. For years, most people had a clear and predictable way of voting. That was now gone and they sure as hell didn’t like it. Nerves were frayed, patience was thin. In the days leading to the election, a common saying was “I went to a fight and a bingo game broke out.” People could not wait for the election to be over. If performing one’s civic duty was this stressful, what does this say about the future? People began to talk of starting anew after this election. There was talk of even doing away with political parties and simply focus on the candidate instead. Others talked about the potential of developing a new political party that focused on shared ideas yet still allowing each candidate to address their ideas in their own way. If we can only get through this election, thought the good folks of Hillnutt.
And just like that, it was over.
When the final vote was tallied, Harvey Beechslap (Republican) beat out Arnold Muskmellon (Democrat) by 10 percentage points. The candidates from the new parties each pulled in about 12% of the vote (not bad for a new political party). You would think that with all the stress caused by this election that the citizens of Hillnutt would try to put it behind them and forget it ever happened. But you would be wrong. This is what makes the people of Hillnutt special. Instead, they built something new. A new political party with a large umbrella.
The Pluribus Party was established in 2015, not too long after the 2014 elections. As it became evident that the hope of change was quickly deflating, several people in the little town of Hillnutt became more discouraged. Being tired of “politics as usual”, several members of the community began to talk of forming a new political party with a focus towards common vision, espousing a “focus on a few things and do them well” approach. Even with the varied political leanings of the town, most people had the same goals: to fix a broken Washington, have safe and effective schools, to be treated equally, and regain a sense of pride in the American Dream. Leading the charge was Hillnutt mayor Walter Uterus Abernathy III. On February 1, 2015, he invited all interested citizens to the Bryton County Courthouse for an open forum focused on making a political difference. At the end of the meeting, those in attendance agreed to meet weekly, with the goal of developing a coalition that spoke to the common person. It was agreed that the nation’s traditional motto of E pluribus unum (“out of many, one”) would be used as a guiding principle. Hence, the Pluribus Party was born.
The logo (displayed above) consists of one large star representing the United States of America. The red, white, and blue represent the country’s flag. Actually, the white is grayish-white in color. When a solid white was used initially in the logo, the star looked like a deformed Pac-Man so we had to add a little color to it. However, the top and bottom of the main star represent also the divide in our country between “blue” states and “red” states. Thus the white streak in the main star represents a desire to end this polarization and seek common ground. Atop the main star are six smaller stars. These stars represent the Six Foundations of focus of the Pluribus Party (described below). The six smaller stars are purple in color to symbolize the mixing of blue (left/liberal) and red (right/conservative) political philosophies. The color purple is used often throughout Pluribus Party literature..
MOTTO: “DON’T EAT THE GRAVEL”
This is an interesting story. As the Pluribus Party was in its infancy, several meetings were held to formulate the vision and goals of the new party. Due to flooding at the Bryton County Courthouse (the usual meeting place), one meeting had to be moved to another location. The only available space that day was the back conference room at Lance Beetleman’s “Tri-County Rock & Gravel” shop. Lance likes his rocks. On each table in the conference room, he keeps a bowl of ornamental polished stones. At this particular meeting, the primary goal was to come up with a motto and agree upon bylaws for our meetings. As to the former, we expected that it would only take a few minutes to agree upon a motto. Since many of us were still upset at the decisions (or lack of) by members of Congress recently elected in the 2014 elections, we all thought that the proposed motto of “What The Fuck Were You Thinking” would pass with no dissent. However, a couple of folks in attendance thought people would be confused by the word “Thinking”. Thus, the conversation began as to another possible motto. The meeting began at 9:00 a.m. sharp with the hope of being done by lunch. However, every time someone came up with an idea, others would shoot it down. The meeting dragged on with no agreement in sight. One of the people in attendance was Mary Lynn, the local librarian. Ms. Lynn is a sweet young lady, a single Mom raising a five-year old son named Willy. She is a very patient woman, polite to a tee, and everybody considered her the “girl next door” (however, it is rumored that she has an STP sticker tattooed on her ass). At several points during the meeting, Willy would try to sneak a few of the polished stones in his mouth but foiled each time by his mother. It was clear that Mary was becoming a bit frustrated with this frequent admonishment. As the meeting dragged on, Ms. Lynn’s patience was reaching its breaking point. Little Willy continued to take some of the polished stones out of the bowl and try to put them in his mouth. After six hours and being no closer to an agreed upon motto, it was obvious Ms. Lynn’s patience with Willy’s oral fascination with the rocks was wearing thin. Having finally had enough, the next time Willy reached for the rock bowl, Ms. Lynn slapped his hand and loudly exclaimed “DON’T EAT THE GRAVEL!” Maynard Johnson, who had been silent till this point, voiced “I second.” Someone in the back of the room asked “All in favor?” In unison, everyone in the meeting shouted “Aye!” and there you have it. Motion carried. The motto of the new Pluribus Party shall be “Don’t Eat The Gravel.”
GUIDING MANTRA: “LIFE, LIBERTY, & THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS….AND A GOOD BOLOGNA SANDWICH”
The Pluribus Party strongly believes in the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as put forth in the Declaration of Independence. We believe that the Six Foundations put forth by the Pluribus Party (again, see below) are steps in the right direction for maintaining these rights and, in turn, providing for a better America. Furthermore, we don’t believe that one should fight for such unalienable rights on an empty stomach. And nothing satisfies an empty stomach, nor is more traditionally American, than a damn good bologna sandwich. Heck, we’ll even accept turkey and tofu bologna. See, we embrace diversity in all its forms.
THE SIX FOUNDATIONS
Once we got the housekeeping chores described above out of the way, our little group of rural revolutionaries pondered next our main areas of focus. We all agreed that we should start with broad areas first, topics and philosophies that most of us could agree on. For example, there is general agreement on subjects such as “clean water” or “wanting a larger penis.” Of course, no disagreements there. And while there may be differences of opinion on how we get to a successful resolution of that subject, agreement on the broader concept is seen as a step in the right direction. As a matter of fact, almost everybody who worked on the initial development of the Pluribus Party expected and was okay with the idea of having differing opinions. That we could still agree on global areas of interest while having differing opinions on the details was our primary goal. As such, we had a good starting point to address differing perspectives via the use of civil debate and the use of compromise expected of us by our Founding Fathers.
THE SIX FOUNDATIONS
The majority of people in Hillnutt acknowledge that we are all striving for the same destination but travel different roads to get there. In general, adherents to the Pluribus Party agree upon the following areas of focus:
- Citizen Participation: The Pluribus Party believes that for any change to occur, it all begins with people. This includes making sure that the right to vote is emphasized and protected, that each vote matters and reflects the voter’s true preference, people (not corporations) should determine who is elected, government is beholden to the people and should not condone corruption of its officials, and that the voices and candidates of independent and third party candidates should have equal rights in being heard by the public. To this end, the Party supports the use of approval voting and/or STAR voting in elections, the overturning of Citizens United and the influence of corporate money on the political system, to fully support the movement to end corruption in government and hold elected officials accountable to the people as opposed to special interests and lobbyists, and increased visibility of independent and third parties.
- Education: One of the best gifts we can give our children is an excellent education. The Pluribus Party believes that equal opportunity for education is paramount to uplifting our country. As America’s test scores continue to decline (and the focus on testing increases), basic fundamental changes to our educational system are needed. A greater emphasis on creative thinking needs to be incorporated into our education ethos, especially in the earlier grades. Teacher education should be a top priority, leading to the development of a learned and esteemed profession. Our nation’s high schools should help mold the employees of tomorrow, employees that are placed in positions in which they can succeed, be creative, be innovative, and provide purpose. High schools should develop tracks and curriculum that prepare students for either skilled or vocational pursuits or for advanced education and careers. The role of the government is to ensure that all students have equal opportunity of educational benefits, regardless of one’s race, wealth, or property tax funding. Furthermore, the government should monitor that all schools have a minimum standard of excellence but allow cities and states to determine how these standards are implemented. The Pluribus Party values creativity in education and thus strongly endorses required courses in ethics, arts, music, physical education, mindfulness, financial responsibilities, and creative thinking. For those students who wish to further advance their education, we believe that college should be affordable and not be in the business of using our students as pawns for profit. A restructuring of student loan debt and low-interest student loans are vital. For our nation to advance, this country needs a creative and intelligent citizenry. It is the duty of government to implement laws and regulations via legislation that would help pay for a portion of one’s college education yet still provide incentive and personal responsibility. Such legislation does not have to be a burden to the citizenry. And just as the Pluribus Party espouses a restructure of primary and high school education, we support as well a different look at college structure. The traditional four-year degree has its place in our society. However, we encourage the development of vocation and business focused “professional degrees” that allow a more focused attention on one’s vocational choice, thus allowing professional degrees in certain vocations to be obtained in a two to three year period, allowing for quicker entry into the workplace, decreasing the overall cost load on the student, and generating a highly skilled workforce.
- Crime & Punishment: Every American has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (as long as it does not significantly tread on others to have those same rights). Crime and victimization are antithetical to the expression of these rights. The Pluribus Party strongly believes in the implementation of the “3 R’s”: Responsibility, Restitution, and Rehabilitation. The aforementioned concepts should be interwoven into a justice system that is truly equal for all citizens and applied to all without regard to the color of one’s skin or the amount of wealth in one’s possession. Those who commit crimes will be held accountable and expected to provide a form of restitution to either the victim and/or society and will have the opportunity for rehabilitation. Mandatory minimums will be imposed on crimes that are committed with a weapon as these crimes pose the most significant threat to life, liberty, and happiness. Whenever possible, the use of creative sentencing should be utilized guided by the “3 R’s”. This includes an increase in the use of drug courts instead of imprisonment to assist those who may be in the throes of addiction. On a similar note, the increase of “for profit” prisons has placed financial interest over societal interest, thus filling beds often with non-violent offenders for the sake of financial incentives and quotas. Therefore, the Pluribus Party believes that private prisons are not the answer. Instead, alternative facilities based on the “3 R’s” are seen as better meeting the needs of society.
- Healthcare: The Pluribus Party believes that America should consider adequate healthcare a basic right. We believe that an “Improved Medicare for All” approach that provides basic medical coverage is feasible, yet still provides an opportunity for citizens to purchase additional coverage in the private market if they wish. A primary purpose of this support is while American healthcare can be excellent, affordability and access leave much to be desired. Waste, greed, and corruption have no place in a system in which we supposedly truly care about the health of our children and citizens. Simultaneously, we understand the value that competition and innovation can play in the healthcare industry. Thus, we believe that a common ground can be found between capitalism and care. The role of prevention is paramount in constructively reshaping our healthcare system. This includes an increased openness towards alternative and holistic approaches to disease and disease prevention, including the legalization of medical cannabis which is to be prescribed as any other medication. The Pluribus Party encourages states to develop state and county wide health facilities that are integrated with the populace, providing ample opportunity for exercise, prevention education, socialization, and dietary information (including farmer markets and adult team sports). Healthier foods should be available in our nation’s schools. While we understand that kids will be kids and have an affinity for “pizza day” at school, increased options should be provided. To “force” healthy eating will likely have opposite desired results. On the other hand, providing education and choice is deemed to be a good starting point, especially combined with an increased emphasis on physical education endorsed in our Education Foundation (#2 above). The possible use of subsidies to encourage the use of organic farming should be considered.
- Economic Policy: For our country to prosper, the Pluribus Party believes that rules for taxation should be fair and equal for all. Wealth should not buy privilege. Nor should economic policy be dictated by the few. It is imperative that restructuring should occur in our current code. While a number of proposals have been suggested by politicians, we do not believe that the most feasible tax code has yet been presented. This includes current incarnations of the “flat tax” and “fair tax” (to use an old saying, “the devil is in the details”). It is therefore important that those from different philosophies of taxation come together and, through the art of compromise, establish a system that best meets the needs of individual citizens and the operation of the federal government. However, the Pluribus Party supports a coming together of supporters of our current progressive tax (to establish effective rates, close loopholes) and various blends of consumer and wealth taxes. No matter the tax code implemented, true economic progress will not take place until the government is able to reign in wasteful and corrupt spending. We therefore support an independent federal commission to investigate fraud and waste in all federal programs. Likewise, we support increased scrutiny and transparency of the Federal Reserve and the influence it has on this country’s overall economy. Economic prosperity includes also the ability to earn a fair wage. Division along lines of wealth is not healthy for this country. Wealth in and of itself is not the danger this country faces. It is the presence of corporate greed that sets the stage for divisiveness which we find to be unpatriotic. No corporation should be so large as to follow a separate set of rules, no bank should be too big to fail. The current trend towards monopolies is of grave concern and we believe that it is in the purview of the federal government to intervene when necessary (think “Ma Bell” several years ago) due to the stifling of competition and the increased chance of price gouging such behemoths could impose on commerce and the buying power of the average American citizen.
- Freedom & Expression of Religion: The Pluribus Party fully supports the separation of church and state. Likewise, we also fully support the open expression of one’s religious beliefs and the right not to have any such beliefs. An important part of our history involves the ability to express our religious beliefs based on our own conclusions, not those forced upon us by a government. However, the right to express one’s beliefs should not unduly encumber or deny the rights of others to express their beliefs. Furthermore, personal religious beliefs should not be used to deny the implementation or duties of state and federal laws. The Pluribus Party is not opposed to the expressions of religious beliefs and holidays on state and federal grounds but such expressions are to be supported by independent (nongovernment agencies) or charitable means. Inherent in this is the recognition that no religion be favored over another in instances of displays on state and federal grounds. Naturally, “common sense” and community standards would apply in such displays.
That’s just a rough example of our Six Foundation. Over the next few weeks (maybe longer…depends on my work and life schedules), I’ll provide examples of how many of these foundation areas have shaped the sociopolitical landscape in Hillnutt.