IRELAND, WV: Can you imagine being in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day? Around here, one day ain’t enough, so these folks celebrate an Irish Spring Festival all week.
My turn on the agenda came three nights ago when I followed the candidates for King and Queen to the stage. They were asked to give a campaign speech, but because you had to be over 60 to get nominated, they didn’t say much. They all figured folks in these parts knew everything about ’em already. In fact two of the six said they were roped into running, and one didn’t show up at all. You could tell they were all deserving and had a long record of service to the community.
There is something about the way these folks get elected that is worth sharing with the world. See, they are elected by dollar contributions, a penny a vote.
There’s no novelty to the concept, in fact it’s kinda like we elect most folks in this country. Whoever collects the most, wins.
Here in Ireland all the proceeds, every penny collected, is put to good use: the upkeep of the old community building. (It used to be the grade school for this end of the county, but somebody figured the students would be smarter if they spent an extra hour a day on a bus.)
Now just suppose we did the same in all of our elections. Imagine the good it would do. Whatever a candidate for President or Congress collects… 50 million, or 100 million, or 200 million…. it would all go into the U.S. Treasury to pay off the National debt. For Governors and Legislators, all the money would go into their own state Treasuries. Same way for all the city and local elections. No more throwing away campaign money on television ads and political consultants.
This way, whoever collects the most is automatically elected, without going through the pretense and expense of an election.
Out of the money collected, the national candidates would get a small weekly allowance, just enough to hire a bus to take them around the country, like John Madden to football games. The in-state candidates would get a pickup truck, like Janet Reno.
What if there’s a tie, like Florida, and everyone collects the same amount?
Well, do what they do in a basketball game, go into overtime. Add another week to the campaign. That would raise even more money for a good cause. It’s not likely you would have another tie, but if you did, a second overtime week couldn’t hurt. This way you keep the Supreme Court out of it, and it’s all decided before deer season.
But, what about the poor person who can’t afford to contribute?
This is where Election Reform comes in. I would make one change, and I think I would have the unanimous support of John McCain and Ted Kennedy on this one. Let the poor, and the unemployed and anybody else, volunteer their time instead of dollars. But instead of working directly for the candidate, stuffing envelopes and making those annoying phone calls at supper time, they would work for a charity or other needy cause, including the government.
Every hour worked would count so many dollars for their candidate. That way, you make it a fair election. One candidate might collect a pile of dollars, but if the other guy can collect hundreds or thousands of hours of work, why you have yourself a real election campaign.
Now I don’t know if it’ll work nationally, but it sure went over here. If Congress adopts this Election Plan, there’s plenty of folks here in Ireland that can teach ’em how to run it. I hear that Sen. Daschle intends to adopt some kind of election reform plan this week, so why not pick one with a proven record.
Before I go on, I’ve got to be perfectly honest with you. I don’t want you to think I’m plum loco with what I’m about to admit to you. Yes, I was in Ireland Thursday, but I’m not in Ireland today. I’m in Berlin. It’s only twenty miles between Ireland and Berlin because this is West Virginia, not European geography.
Speaking of Europe, did you read about the study in England on gum chewing? It seems chewing gum improves your memory, makes you smarter. They say the key is the “repetitive chewing motion”, which may explain why the smartest animal in the barnyard is the cow. Since I’ve chewed gum all my life, and single-handed kept Mr. Wrigley in business, imagine how poor my grammar would be without it.
Riding a bus might be all right for these Ireland students after all, if they give ’em a stick of gum when they get on.
Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (plus an Irish fact…)
“Well, today is the seventeenth of Ireland. Of all the nationalities that have helped to root out the Indians over here, the Irish are the only ones that have made enough impression on everybody that we celebrate their birthday… When you are laying out your European trip this Spring, don’t overlook the old Emerald Isle. It’s got ’em all beat for beauty, romance, humor and hospitality.” DT #1450, March 17, 1931
“Ireland quieted down, just as I told you it would. You see, they found out in a war with each other that somebody got hurt, so why shoot each other for no good at all? So Ireland is going fine.” Saturday Evening Post, May 12, 1928
Fact: Will Rogers’ great-grandfather, Robert Rogers, was an Irish-Scotchman. He came to what is now West Virginia around 1800 to trade with the Indians. He married Lucy Cordery who was half-blood Cherokee. They moved to Georgia, and had a son, Robert Rogers, Jr. in 1815. He grew up and married Sally Vann, a 3/8 Cherokee, in 1835, and Clem (Will’s father) was born in 1839. He married Mary America Schrimsher in 1859. They had 7 babies before Will came along in 1879. (Main source: Will Rogers: a Biography, by Ben Yogoda.)