I usually avoid discussing religion, about which nobody except God knows anything for sure, and politics, about which everybody knows everything for sure, with people I care about. But I thought I’d ask my neighbor, George, who lives in the basement apartment next door, how he understands today’s politics, and then just listen.

The public, including the electorate, falls into three groups … all three of which appear in the manner in which an automobile or tractor gear shift is designated in “reverse,” “neutral” and “forward.” Dan King photo

George says that, if politics requires getting elected to a political post by a majority of the voting public, then one must appeal to that majority by promising to get them what they want. Otherwise, they will vote for another candidate who is more forthcoming in this respect. We have, then, two questions: Who is the majority, and what do they want? The first is complicated, and the second is simple.

The public, including the electorate, falls into three groups, none of which forms a majority by itself, but all three of which appear in the manner in which an automobile or tractor gear shift is designated in “reverse,” “neutral” and “forward.”

The neutral group, content with who they are and what they have, don’t really care, or aren’t smart enough to know that things could be better or worse, or haven’t noticed that something is eating the heel of their left boot, and the sandwiches are almost gone, but any political candidate would easily handle such concerns – boots and sandwiches.

The reverse group is unhappy with the present, with who they are, what they have, and how they are being treated. They want to go back to what they believe are the values, the domestic and social arrangements, the privileges, entitlements and free handouts they think they have always known in the past, but which have been quietly slipping away. They want a change for the better.

The forward group is unhappy with the present, with who they are, what they have, and how they are being treated. They want to establish new values, new domestic and social arrangements, privileges, entitlements, free handouts, peace and prosperity for all. They want a change for the better.

Since both the reverse group and the forward group want the same thing, namely a change for the better, then taken together, they are a majority. Now if you promise both groups a change for the better wrapped in a cover of patriotism, pride in our nation’s past, offer them the vision of a bright new future, and threats from outer space, or south of the border, and the unspeakable evil of those among us who look different, speak tongues we cannot understand and pray to a god we do not know, you’ve got it made. You’re elected. Anyone can do it, he says.

That’s according to George, who lives in the basement apartment next door.

Orrin Frink is a Kennebunkport resident. He can be reached at [email protected]

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