Jerry Summers: Best of Dalton - Shutting Up

  • Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

One of the interesting characters in the world of Hamilton County politics in the pre-media blitz days was the late County Executive, song writer, philosopher, who wrote a 120 page collection of stories about himself and many others, “Things That Really Matter” (1982) which happened to be the year he ran for re-election.

The idea of converting the World War II facility at the Volunteer Ammunition Plant into the Volkswagen complex is one that is often shared equally by supporters of Dalton and the late Claude Ramsey, also a County Executive.

The actual chapter in his book is “How to Shut Up a Politician” and with 2024 being a continuation of the never ending forays at the local, state, and federal election level it is timely 42 years later in the glitzy, expensive world television area of who can directly or through real or false writers can trash your opponent most effectively:

“First, let us all be candid and objective and acknowledge that you can only shut up a politician by shocking him. Admit, also, that we politicians have all seen so much that we're very hard to shock. It must be something we've never seen or that we see so seldom that we are caught totally off guard. It must be something we don't expect. Your average everyday shocker won't slow down a politician, much less shut him up.

Accepting this absolutely certain, universally-accepted premise, I now proceed to help you succeed in the toughest assignment any human could ever face-shutting up a politician. All of the following techniques are guaranteed to work:

1. Send him or her this note: "I am just an average citizen with no special lobbying interest. I don't need anything from you and may never meet you. I'm only interested in good government and I believe you are trying to give us good government. I can't afford a large contribution like all those people who are always needing favors from you, but I am endosing a one dollar bill to let you know that one citizen with a limited income is willing to show his support.”

2. When a politican you have voted for and supported says or does something that makes you very angry, call or write as follows: "I agreed with you on issues A, B, C, G, L, W, and Y, and you've done a good job on D, F, H, J, and Z, but I don't agree with you on issue X. While this is a very important issue to me because of 1, 2, 3, 4, I want you to know that I will look at your overall record when you run again and will weigh all of your actions as objectively as I can."

3. Call a politician you have never liked and say, "I have never liked you and/or your political philosophy. But I do realize that you are a human being who has the potential for change and I am aware that I may not know as much about you as I need to know to objectively evaluate you and your performance. I believe in God and prayer and I want you to know that I am praying for you. I hope you will open your mind to receive any guidance He may want to give you. I'm also praying for me. I want to be open, too, to any guidance He can give me in assessing you and your job performance."

4. Try this one: "I don't know you but someone told me today that you are a wife-beater, alcoholic, and shakedown artist. I believe you have the right to respond to these accusations and I will appreciate your answer. If someone accused me of these things, I'd want to know about it and have a chance to respond."

Any politician who received a letter or call of this kind would never forget the person. He would be speechless. Yes, I know he would regain his voice and be right back on the tube. But he wouldn't be the same person. He'd be better and maybe he'd have something better to say. Am I saying that people are thoughtless? No, I'm saying that politicians are stereotyped. They're surrounded by so many people who tell them they're great and bombarded by so many people who think they're subhuman that they must fight to keep some perspective.”

(May be bad political advice but remember we elected Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter!)

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You can reach Jerry Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com

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