If the name Ernest Evans doesn’t roll off your tongue, perhaps you know this singer better under his stage name, Chubby Checker. Of course, his biggest hit was “The Twist” – but he came close with another song in 1962 – “The Limbo Rock.”
This upbeat song was composed in response to a great deal of tourism that took place – particularly for those of us on the east coast – to that island paradise of Jamaica in the Caribbean. The “Limbo” was a popular dance on the island.
As you probably know, several people hold up a “limbo stick” and the dancers go under it – all to the beat of some calypso music. The stick is lowered after each round of dancers goes under and the winner of the contest is that dancer who can go under the limbo stick at its lowest level.
I’m not sure exactly why this came to mind today. It’s been years – perhaps even a decade since I heard the “Limbo Rock.” I remember always feeling upbeat after listening to it – and after looking at today’s news I guess I needed a little pick me up.
My thought was that in the fifty years since the “Limbo Rock” was a hit we have answered the question that Chubby Checker poses in that song – “How low can you go,?” at least as far as it pertains to the behavior we find acceptable in those whom we elect to public office. That answer is lower than ever previously thought possible.
Perhaps you’ve been following Anthony Wiener’s attempt to return to politics by running as a candidate in the New York mayoral race. If you have, you may have seen that he has hit the lowest “favorability rate” thus far in the contest at only 11%. Now with eight million people in the “Naked City” that means there are nearly nine hundred thousand people who don’t seem offended or disgusted by his well-publicized sexting behavior.
Alright, those aren’t all registered voters. Perhaps there are only a quarter of those who will be casting ballots. But that means that there are over two hundred thousand people in my home town who don’t see a problem with this sort of behavior and who think that a person who has demonstrated an ability to execute very poor life choices is competent to run our largest city.
When the Wiener scandal first broke (no it’s not a phony scandal – we reserve those for events that come out of Washington) and Wiener was fighting for his political life and to retain his seat in Congress, I listened to several of his press conferences. To be honest, the then Congressman seemed sincere in admitting that he had made some mistakes and that he was a “new man.” Just as I would like to receive the benefit of the doubt and a second chance if I had done something wrong – I was willing to extend the same to him.
But then we found out that sincere apology was just smoke and didn’t represent the Congressman’s actual behavior. Ultimately, additional information came out that clearly showed the sexting in which the Congressman had engaged was on-going. And it has continued even since his resignation which has resulted in his extremely low approval ratings in the mayoral race.
I guess my disgust with this situation is not that we have people serving in public office whose values are questionable. That is disturbing. But what really bothers me is that the Congressman flat-out lied to his constituents and to the country without any sense of shame or remorse.
There is nothing that turns me off faster than someone who is a liar. I’m not talking about a person who might tell an occasional fib. I’m speaking of someone who has elevated lying to an art and a pathology. And the fact that we have so many examples of this bad behavior among elected officials right now speaks directly to the reason that there is so much turmoil in the country.
That bad behavior is not restricted to the Democrats. There are a significant number of politicians on the other side of the aisle who need to take a close look in the mirror as well.
There is only one reason that they are able to get away with this sort of behavior. We the people permit it – in fact we endorse it – by mindlessly returning to office people who have demonstrated that their only interest in being in public office is because of the prestige that it brings and how it fulfills their own agendas – not how their constituents might benefit from their advocacy.
As distasteful as politics is to many of us, we have no right to sit back and complain about the economy, the jobless rate, the lack of standards and morality or anything else unless we are willing to get our hands dirty and get involved in the process. If we refuse to participate, we are as much a part of the problem as those who misrepresent themselves and get elected.
I’m not sure what – if anything – will wake most of the American populace from its lethargy. Maybe it’s just a matter of time until things get bad enough that even the most uninvolved wake up, take notice and then take action.
Until then, I guess we’ll all just limp along – in limbo.