Imagine someone living in a typical American city. We will call this guy Bob and Bob lives in the city of Metropolis. Bob is a single man living in the city, working at a job while he enjoys his youth, looks for a mate and figures out what to do with his life. Bob does not care all that much about anything else. After all, he has a decent apartment, enough money to go out on weekends and plenty of friends. Like most people starting out in the world, Bob is just a visitor passing through.
Now, Bob has a steady girl now and he is starting to think more seriously about things like where he should live, or maybe where they should live. He’s thinking about what he should do for a career, rather than a job. He’s also starting to notice the world around him a bit more. For example, the bus he takes to the subway stop is always dirty and it stinks a bit. The subway has bums and the toilets don’t work. The trash barrels are always overflowing, no matter the time of day.
Just as Bob is starting to think more about the world around him, the Mayor of Metropolis, let’s call him Mayor Dick, announces he is going to go on a listening tour around the city. He wants to know what is on people’s minds. Mayor Dick says it is time for the city listen to the people and address their issues. He will hold town hall style meetings in every neighborhood of the city. Bob decides he’s going to go to one of these meetings and tell the mayor about the transit system.
To Bob’s surprise, the first meeting has lots of familiar faces. He realizes that these familiar faces are his neighbors, people he sees every day, but knows little about, other than they seem to be around a lot. Even more surprising, he learns that they are there to talk about the transit system too. Like Bob, they don’t understand why the buses are dirty and why they let bums loiter in the subway station. When Mayor Dick arrives, they all take turns telling him about the problems with the transit system.
Now, Bob feels pretty good. For the first time in his life he is involved in his community and beginning to know his neighbors. He was never much for politics, he never voted, but this feels like a good thing. Bob is not naive though. He knows politicians love making promises, but rarely deliver. Still, this Mayor Dick guy seemed sincere and he seemed to understand what was being said about the transit system. He even said he had ridden the subway to their town hall meeting.
Not long after the listening tour ends, Mayor Dick holds a press conference where he announces changes to the transit system. After talking to the community, he has slashed the budget for cleaning the buses. He has had all of the trash barrels removed from the subway stops and he has given the city’s bum population free transit passes so they can ride the buses and subway as much as they like. The city’s main newspaper writes glowing articles about Mayor Dick’s new initiatives.
Bob and all of his neighbors are outraged. How could this be? He was at the meeting and no one said they wanted more bums in the subway. Everyone specifically said they wanted fewer bums. Bob starts to think that maybe people at other meetings may have confused the message. On the bus to work one day, as a naked hobo masturbates in the seat across from him, he hears on the radio that Mayor Dick, after the success of his last listening tour, will hold another next month.
Talking with his neighbors, they agree that they need to get the word out to the rest of the city about the transit problem. After all, there is no way they wanted things to be made worse with the buses and subway stations. Maybe they don’t use the system that much or had other priorities. They all agree to form a group to raise awareness around the city about the shabby condition of the transit system. They will attend every meeting and make their voices heard by everyone.
Along comes the next listening tour and Bob and his people are set. They show up at every meeting wearing red shirts with their slogan on it. “Bus Reform Now!” is their slogan and they bring hats and buttons to every meeting. To their delight, everyone is receptive and peppers Mayor Dick with questions about the problem. Mayor Dick tells the people he has heard what they have to say and he promises to address it. “Now is the time to build back better” he says.
Bob is feeling pretty good at this point. He organized a city wide campaign to raise awareness on the transit issue. He got people all over the city to tell the mayor they wanted the system cleaned up. Not long after, Mayor Dick holds a presser where he announces that the city’s lunatic asylum will be closed and the inmates released, with free passes, into the subway stations. All cleaning will cease, even inside the stations and the toilets will be abandoned to chance.
As Bob and his neighbors watch this, they are stunned. This Mayor Dick guy is either an idiot or up to something. No one could want more bums and no one has ever said they wanted lunatics in the subway stations. Theories begin to circulate about what is really behind the mayor’s action. Meanwhile, the media begins to talk ominously about a secret conspiracy to undermine the city government. They brand Bob’s organization as dangerous subversives trying to undermine the government.
Bob and his neighbor have had enough. There is an election coming up and they are going get Mayor Dick thrown out of office. They agree that Bob is the right man for the job, since he organized the transit awareness group and people now know him. Bob signs up to run for mayor. To his surprise, he is greeted with big crowds all around the city as he goes to speak about his plans for the city. A keystone of his campaign is to reverse Mayor Dick’s changes to the transit system.
Everyone is feeling pretty good about things. The media has mostly ignored Bob’s campaign, continuing to call him a dangerous subversive, but the crowds at his events say that the people want change. The election finally arrives and not only does Mayor Dick win, he wins rather handily. It was not very close at all. Bob and his neighbors can’t believe it. The media claims that Mayor Dick’s listening tour and transit reform was the key to his victory. They hint that maybe he could be president one day.
Days later, Bob is found dead in his apartment. He has two gunshots in the back of the head, so the media declares it was suicide. Bob’s girlfriend, now his fiancé, tells everyone that Bob was not suicidal and he did not own a gun. The media claims Bob had a serious midget porn problem and was mixed up with Russian gangsters, so even if he did not kill himself, he probably deserved it. It is another example of how democracy must always be vigilant against people like Bob.
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