“Hereditary democracy” should be a non sequitur, a Push-Me-Pull-You conundrum that only Dr. Doolittle would appreciate — and hopefully sail far away with in a giant pink snail.
But rather than disappearing over the European horizon with the red coats, this oxymoron (which produces two asses, rather than two heads) has become a feature of the American landscape — from the Adams family to the Windy Daleys to the nine-lives-and-counting Kennedys to the disturbingly hardy Bushes — and nowhere so much as in San Antonio, where this year’s council races will likely install the wife of a former councilman and mayor and sister of a former councilman in District 1, and leave the son of a former councilman, mayor, and current county judge in the District 9 place.
If Mary Alice Cisneros wins, she’ll have succeeded another hereditary rep, outgoing councilman Roger Flores, Jr., who stepped into his father’s old District 1 shoes when he won the seat in 2003. The scuttlebut last fall had Flores’s mother, Vangie, cutting a deal with Cisneros: Cisneros now, Flores in four years.
Even if this delicious bit of dish was as ephemeral as the long-rumored proof that Rick Perry is gay, it’s telling: Is the council seat of a major American city a cap feather to be traded between dynasties like a backwater dictatorship?
Yes, it’s true that we should be free to elect the most-qualified candidate for office, regardless of who that person is related to. But if the “most-qualified” candidates are frequently people from the same family tree, perhaps it’s time to shake the branches and beat the Bushes.
I also agree with Right-Wing critics who see Bill Clinton as a liability for Hillary’s candidacy — although not for the same reasons. H would make a good president IMHO, but I’m beginning to think we need to insist on all-new monograms for the White House linens. We should set a precedent now: After eight years of W, even hardcore Republicans realize a Jeb campaign is a bad idea, but don’t think in a few years they won’t put up “P,” the goodlooking Latino Bush they like to trot out for South Texas photo ops.
To prove my truly bipartisan intentions, I’m not even proposing a rule to fix this problem: I’m asking individual voters to take responsibility. If you live in District 1, you could touchscreen for former Current staffer (and Green Party member) kat swift — think of her as the Patti Radle candidate, an important role that needs to be filled as the legendary District 5 environmental and social-justice rep is term-limited out this spring — or teacher R. Esmeralda Monreal de Mercado.
Of course, if it happens that the country slides into a hereditary “democracy,” a fleet of well-oiled PR flaks, pictures of Tony Snow laminated to their binder covers, will be ready to spin it. H-E-B serves as our case study in “handling the press” this week. Readers of the Current’s blog, Chisme Libre (online at Sacurrent.com) already know that last week PETA launched a national campaign to ask H-E-B not to sell foie gras in its stores. Traditional foie gras is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers swell to roughly 10 times the normal size — an unpleasant process called gavage that often uses tubes that are inserted directly into the birds’ esophagi.
The Current called H-E-B spokesperson Dya Campos, who responded with the familiar “no comment.” But then she called back to say that she’d looked into it and “it’s only at one store,” the SA Central Market.
As will sometimes happen in a democracy — especially one with so many cash registers — not everyone was on message about the foie gras. We just missed the last order at Houston’s Central Market, but were told to call back Tuesday; Dallas said to come on over and pick it up; the Austin stores only carry it around the holidays, but like each of the eight CMs we spoke to, they were happy to special-order it for us if there was none in the freezer.
Campos hasn’t returned calls for clarification. PETA says its members and sympathizers had sent more than 90,000 emails before H-E-B began blocking them on March 16. They have since filled the customer-service phone-message box.
You can learn more about foie-gras production at Goveg.com/factoryFarming_ducks.asp. If you’re not going veggie, but just can’t stomach the force-feeding practices, check out Spanish artisans Pateria de Sousa, who slaughter the geese seasonally, when they are naturally fattened up for migration. Their product, which they call Ganso Iberico, may be the future, as more states and cities think about following California’s and Chicago’s leads and banning foie gras produced through gavage. Jim Schiltz of South Dakota is already selling what he calls “late harvest” goose liver to Chicago restaurants — you can find him online at Roastgoose.com.