WITH JORDANNA THIGPEN
Photo by Jack
By Jordanna Thigpen
March 3, 2006
What does true power look like? How do the truly powerful treat
their constituents, their employees, their friends? Certainly
not by playing Frogger 2006 with human lives and dignity.
The truly powerful are nonviolent.
Harper's February 2006 edition has a divine essay by Garrett
Keizer entitled Crap Shoot: Everyone Loses When Politics Is
a Game. This is a very timely and very necessary truth for
us to accept if we are to implement and endorse progressive values.
In a resigned, delicate, and hopeful voice - hopeful the way
the hopeful believe our country does not engage in war profiteering
- Mr. Keizer describes the destructive influence of what he calls
"players" in the American political system.
Drawing on a 1938 theory from Dutch academic Johan Huizinga,
Mr. Kezier contrasts "players" with "workers."
In their worst manifestations, players treat the world and all
those within it as pawns in a game, and workers dumbly, blindly,
go about their business doing the work the players tell them to
In the end Kezier calls on progressives to lay aside our identification
with either players or workers, to accept that if we want to be
the change we wish to see in the world, we must fight for it.
Never mind that through fighting we might ourselves become players,
unless we remember to adopt Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch)
Here in San Francisco, players are alive and well.
In my mere five years in San Francisco politics, the most pathetic,
most despicable scenes I have witnessed have resulted from the
players' chess games. Some are entrenched, some are on the periphery,
some believe they're in the game when really, they're just watching,
or were benched long ago.
Players, a special invitation! There is a place for you, and
it's not public service: it's the corporate sector! The Enrons
and the WorldCom's of the world need you. Stand in your black
trench coat and black hat next to Jack Abramoff (with the Neighborhood
Watch guy on your other side, for symmetry's sake), and be counted.
We use the term politics as a general term for the players'
games. Alliances form, armies are raised, lines are drawn, battles
are won. The outcomes of wars have yet to be determined and the
contracts are still up for sale. This series of events could describe
"office politics" where all that's at stake is a promotion
or an office with a view, or our very party system.
Sadly, in all industries, there are players who intervene in
the normal course of affairs, who can't just let things be.
The worst players are those who play just for the sake of
it. They're not attached to any political outcome or, God
forbid, societal progress. They are the mercenaries. They
are the most destructive because they bear loyalty to no man or
cause. Their dark and only joy is to know that they have seeded
chaos. They usually abhor the spotlight, although sometimes in
their vicious, viscous little way they can't help but seek some
They will take quick, coiling and wry pleasure in the fact that
our upcoming primary occurs on 6/6/6 this year.
As long as we tolerate the presence of these individuals in our
political system, we will never evolve. As members of the public,
we must shun the players. The players among us, interfering with
our leaders and our process, do violence to our democracy.
How do we change? We refuse to engage. We see the game, we know
the rules, and we simply do not play. If we are threatened with
machinations, with players' vile, base display of their power,
then we must act with nonviolence and with quiet dignity and ask
the players to join our league. A truly powerful act is an integrative
act, and yet, an act of integrity. True power is the elimination
of players from our very political process. It doesn't mean we
do not have the courage for the fight. Our effort will take sustained
strength and valor far beyond what a mere player could sustain.
For true power, let us reform our political system from the inside
out. We shall no longer write off politics as a dirty business
or a game.
Who among us desires immaculate government, through our own
Stand and be counted.
District 6 resident Jordanna Thigpen is an attorney, small
business owner and a Commissioner with the City's Small Business
Commission. You can usually find her at work and she doesn't get
to Ocean Beach often enough. Email Jordanna at email@example.com.
here for Thigpen archive.