Whether we admit it or not, to a certain extent we all played “the popularity game” in junior high and high school.
Hopefully, by the time most of us got to college, we were humbled by the fact that the world was much bigger than the walls of our tiny lower education walls, and there would always be someone stronger, richer, cuter, smarter, more talented, etc.
And that’s a powerful lesson. Unfortunately and obviously, not all of us grew out of it.
Bernie Madoff was able to pull off what he did by using “The High School Popularity System”. If you remember, the way it worked was to find someone in your grade (or higher) who was more popular than you. You befriended them, and basically held them hostage. If your other friends were nice, you made the introduction and the recommendation. If they weren’t nice, they were banned from your “in group for life” or in the case of high school “until you graduated”.
Oddly enough, as strange as it may sound, a great many never grew out of that adolescent game. In fact all those who donated money to Bernie Madoff knew that he was “friends” with Steven Spielberg and a host of other Hollywood icons. Maybe, just maybe if they donated enough to his charities, they too, could finally get the best revenge that they never got enough of in their youth “popularity”, or to which it is referred in adulthood “money, power etc etc yawn”.
As strange as it may sound, this is the exact model of Grover Norquist. He drew up a simple pledge that he knew would appeal to the wealthiest in the country (no new taxes). But something went wrong. The more savvy among the wealthiest such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Walmart Political Super Pac and others, saw through his little game. Though the Walton kids continued to give money to the GOP (after their candidate Jon Huntsmann lost, the Walmart SuperPac for the first time ever gave more to Democrats than Republicans this election term). Why? You tell me.
But the Congresspersons who signed it did not. They felt by signing the pledge, they could then go back to their constituents and say, “Listen, vote for me and I can get you in with some mighty fancy people through this guru named Grover Norquist” (though I doubt they even mentioned his name as they wanted credit for pulling off this magic.)
The Congresspersons also knew this would appeal to the wealthiest in their own district, giving them yet more leverage in their own districts by offering them untold millions in tax loopholes.
After the smoke settled, and people realized the little high school game Bernie Madoff was playing to lure his contributors, he went to prison. As the political dust settled and voters figured out that Norquist couldn’t guarantee a damned thing except that he was willing to “Pledge An Allegiance” to the wealthiest of this country, not to the flag (and for which it stands) decided to move to the Independent Party, or just go ahead and vote for President Obama. They’d played the game in high school, and many were way too old and smart to play it in adulthood.
Besides, such pledges were always temporary and subject to human behavior, moods, health and a million other things.
There’s a lesson here. Vote for a candidate who will do the best for the entire country. When the entire country is healthy, so is everyone.
Consider that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett didn’t buy into the strange little high school GOP ploy. In fact even WalMart with all its flaws, didn’t either. And if you’re smart (and now out of high school), neither should you.
Rick London is a writer/designer/cartoonist living in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas with his wife Lee Hiller-London who is a popular nature photographer and has a blog Hike Our Planet. London f0unded the Internet’s #1 offbeat cartoons & funny gifts Londons Times Cartoons in 1997.