Once upon a time, in a not-so-far-away country, two tribes, let’s call them the Reds and the Blues struggled to control the government. Two men strove to become their nation’s leader.
One of them, let’s call him Mac, was a warrior, the son of a warrior, and a Red-sider. He fought for his country, was captured in a faraway land by a barbaric enemy, was tortured and suffered unimaginable pain at their hands; when his captors discovered he was the son and grandson of a warrior, they sought to release him if only he would assent to being used for their propaganda. “Hell, no!” was his response. He refused to leave before anyone who had been imprisoned longer than he.
The other, let’s call him DJ, also attained the age of adulthood during a time of war. DJ was a landlord and the son of a landlord, and he didn’t care about Blue-siders or Red-siders. When his turn to serve came, he found a way to weasel out, claiming disability for an achy foot, which somehow never kept him from his pleasures.
After the war that had imprisoned Mac ended, he returned home. His neighbors decided he should become a lawmaker, and so his service to country continued. Mac made some mistakes as a lawmaker and the elders rebuked him, and so he learned how to work for all of his countrymen. Remembering his own experiences, he steadfastly opposed the country using torture. Although he was a partisan Red-sider, he recognized that others who served were no less patriotic, even if they were or black or brown, or if they were Blue-siders with different ideas on how to make his country greater.
DJ could not see any benefit to himself by serving his country, not while he could leverage his father’s wealth and organization to increase his own. He saw others for how they could enrich him, and if he stiffed a few along the way, well, too bad for them. What did integrity matter when there was money to be made?
Over the years, Mac’s stature grew. He challenged other Red-siders to become their champion in an election for leader, but he fell short of his goal. DJ’s reputation grew, too, but not as a leader. His wealth bought him celebrity, as he made sure to be seen in all the right places with all the right people.
Over time, Mac became a Red-sider’s elder; they chose him as their champion to succeed Geo the Younger. But it was not to be. An exciting newcomer defeated Mac in single combat and assumed the mantle of leadership.
Meanwhile, DJ thought it would be a lovely feather in his cap to become leader, and profitable for his businesses to boot. Sensing that he could more easily bamboozle the Red-siders, he joined the lists of contenders for champion. The others thought him a fool, ignored him, and battled each other; the more worthy contenders knocked each other off, and more or less by default, DJ emerged as the Red-side champion. Mac saw right through DJ’s empty boasts and called him out for his mean-spirited words. DJ’s gossamer-thin skin was abraded by Mac’s blunt honesty, and so a disagreement metastasized into a feud.
The Blue-siders were also guilty of misjudging DJ, and so an unfortunate series of accidents (and more than a little outside help) boosted him into the country’s leadership. DJ, who knew only to belittle and condemn, could not bring himself to put their feud behind, even as Mac became ill and battled a foe he could never defeat.
The country mourned Mac’s passing; almost everyone, Red-sider, Blue-sider, ally or opponent, paid tribute to the warrior and son of warriors who devoted his life to his country. The men who defeated Mac in his quest to become leader had only kind words for him, for they recognized his greatness. But DJ’s words were empty, cold, devoid of comfort.
Any resemblance to any politicians, living or dead, is purely intentional.
Wishing you a happy, safe Labor Day weekend. And please remember, school’s back — watch out for kids on their way to school.