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The Dude goes into politics!

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First things first, this is not a blog about politics or even about the life of a "politician" (I'll talk about being a public admin, though), but rather a blog about how people behave when they interact with public administrators and how their stance changes as soon as they know that you are going to "go into politics". I'm not going to talk about ideologies, alliances or whatnot, I was never really interested in politics in general (which I found incredibly boring and deceiving), but I'm fond of my territory and of its people and I decided I could try to give a hand because of my soon-to-be 15 years old experience in business (trade and export); I started this new experience with a humble attitude, but I quickly realized that things are far more complex and winded than what one could imagine, so I thought that it could be interesting to share my experience, from a very candid anthropological point of view.

Let's now have a wider look at the general situation: my municipality is composed of 3 main villages, plus some 10 or more small built up areas and hamlets, for a total population that does not go above 1300 souls, with about 1100 actually living there. We are located in the center of Italy, in an area that is shocking, literally, from the point of view of the quality of the environment (the picture above is just a quick glimpse of where I live, I'll probably post more of them in the future); it was a fully rural area till about 45 years ago, than step by step the new generations stopped to work the land and preferred to move to work on factories or become professionals, with the results that most of what was once farmed, has now gone back to be wild.. the situation is similar in all the surrounding villages and small towns, with the smaller ones that are able to fare better because of lesser need for resources. All in all my area is astonishing, with very low (close to 0) criminality and the best nature you can find worldwide, but it's definitely economically depressed and all the best minds around are forced to leave because there are no opportunities for them here... The economical crisis is the result of the fake economy that was build up during the period between 60's and 80's, when they turned the main city of the area, into an industrial pole which only purpose was that of allowing foreign companies to save money because of cheaper labor cost and better tax conditions: this asset started to crumble sometimes around end of 90's , and it died away slowly and painfully for about 15 years, with the result that where we once had working places for about 15000 people, we nowadays have only 1500, probably less. The consequences are pretty obvious: people lost their know how of farming and handcrafting, which were both thousand-year old activities, and are now hopeless for the most, waiting for a miracle or just surviving out of what their grand parents and parents accumulated over the years.

The elements of "despair and resignation" are central to the actual situation: people aren't capable of finding themselves a way out of this situation, they just complain about everything (and sometimes rightfully) and they blame the State, the Government and the local Administrators for "not being able to do the things the right way"... while I largely agree with this statement on a general sense, I'm not a whiner, and I know that the only way to work problems out when no one else is doing that for you, is to do that yourself... that's the main reason that pushed me to give a try to this experience, I know well that one single man cannot change the world, but I know as well that by giving the good example and showing people that working productively pays, one can do a huge service to any community.. TWC helped me a lot in understanding this, and much of what I've learnt here and during my working life I'm now putting into this new adventure.

How did it start, then? As usual with my life, when I drink too much I do silly things...truth be told I was playing with this idea since a long while, but well the evening that I decided to actually give it a try I was pretty drunk... one never learns certain lessons, I suppose. However, I was very uncertain if to really embark on this journey or not, the premises weren't the best: "the smaller the price, the fiercest the fight", this is a saying we have here and it pretty much summarizes the situation... people have been fighting over getting a seat in the Town Council since when we have a republic, there have been feuds between families and group of families for decades... not that people were shooting each other in the middle of the road like in "Tombstone", but well there are many ways of doing harm to others, you know: petition, charges, defamation, and so on and on. The last ten years we had one list that ruled with a good public opinion consent (especially during the second mandate), and this only added for the worst, because the "other side" was bitterly scorned and tended to act very badly (the more because the cause of their debacle was their inability to propose a valid alternative, so the wound was burning hot, if you get what I mean).. to add for the worst, my family, even if not openly affiliated to any of those groups (the dislike for politics in general is common within my family), was considered to be siding with the "losing party", this because in the past years (before this last decade) some of my relatives were public admins and they were actually the ones who lost the first mandate 10 years ago...
And here is the first lesson for everybody: no matter who you are, what you have done, and what you think, people will give you labels based on prejudices and the limited (sometimes very limited) knowledge they have of you!

So, to move forward a bit faster, I was pretty much uncertain: when I started to spoke with my actual "team" (which is composed by 50% of the people that ruled the last 10 years) I was more oriented towards giving a "help from outside", but step by step by speaking with them and the other few lads and lasses who decided to join us, I found that we could be making a good group and that after all I wasn't the only one who was believing in "good will that brings good things" .. this was surprising to be honest, like anyone else I assumed that the past administrators were simply inept and didn't have the will to fight, and so I was as well a bit ashamed of realizing how much they already did whit the little they had and how many efforts they made to save what was salvageable... Besides, some of the new lads and lasses, just like me, came from the "other side" and it was surprising to see how fast and well we all integrated, once we dropped the labels and looked at people and their ideas for what they actually are.
And here the second lesson: never for any reason assume things about other people and talk away like if you know the things, but rather learn and make yourself aware if you want to understand, otherwise just shut up and leave those who have the will do their job in peace.

Fast forward: the day of the presentation of the lists came and much to our surprise we were the only one who presented one... despite a lot of bla bla and many "secret" meetings, no one was really able to present an alternative to our group; this was both liberating and worrying at the same time: from one side we knew we wouldn't have to fight a no quarter war, from the other we were immediately loaded with the weight of trying to represent the whole citizenship.. if you consider what I said about what was he past, you can imagine how hard was to talk to some people. The campaign was pretty unique, in the sense that in any case we had to work hard in order to convince people to go to vote, this because when there's only one list, you need to get to the minimum quorum of 50%+1 of the people entitled to vote (it's not important how many voted for the list, even if just one voted for it and all the other had an invalid vote, the important was to get to the quorum), otherwise the State would send a Commissioner to "rule", which is a very bad thing for various reasons. However, after one month the election day arrived and all our fears went away, more than 70% of the people went to vote and about 90% of the votes were valid (so around 63% of the population voted for us).. it was a big success overall, usually when there's only one list half of the times they do not get to the quorum and the other half the only get over it with small percentages.. a lot of people was shocked, from both sides..

So, this Dude is now a town councilor, much to his shame to be honest with you.. but now that he's in, he'll be doing his best as usual, so wish him good luck!

PART 2 - The road to the Elections!

Updated October 22, 2019 at 07:53 AM by Flinn

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