Political Satire: Having trouble surviving these times? You’re not alone. Join us in columnist John F. Di Leo’s exploration of an alternate universe, where we imagine the impossible:
An idealistic teenager, living in the 51st ward of a fictional city in middle America, volunteers at the local party headquarters, and learns a lesson or two about modern urban politics.
Little Pavel Takes a Break
by John F. Di Leo
Tired and bored from a morning collating literature at party headquarters, Pavel Syerov Jr. (Paul to his friends) pushed back his chair from the table and said, “I need a soda. Can I get you anything, Pockets?”
Pockets, the old pol who ran the office when the Boss was out, straightened out the stacks of brochures and direct mail. “Sure, Paully, gimme a grenade. Thanks.”
Pavel went back to the refrigerator and collected a diet cola for himself and a longneck bottle for Pockets, and promptly returned. With adult unemployment at ten percent, there was no chance for a summer job for a 17-year-old, so he had been helping out at the local party HQ all summer. He knew the refrigerator and storeroom as well as any volunteer, and he and Pockets had become fast friends. The young man was getting a better education this summer than any summer school class could have taught.
They kicked back and looked out the window to the sweltering hot day beyond, so they could enjoy their ice-cold drinks even better, in this well-deserved break. “So, Pockets, how long do you think Holder can keep his job, before he has to get canned?”
Pockets looked up from his beer. “Canned? Why would Holder be canned? As a good union boy, surely you know we believe in solid job security in this party. A job for a party man is a job for life, I always say!”
“Come on, Pockets,” Pavel said, with a chuckle. “The firestorm about the New Black Panthers in Philadelphia. He didn’t just drop a prosecution before conviction; they already had a judgment. He dropped the prosecution between judgment and sentencing! I don’t know much about the law (though my folks want me to go to law school someday), but I know you can’t keep a job as the country’s chief prosecutor if you let convicted criminals go, setting ‘em free when you’ve got them dead to rights!”
“Holder’s doing just fine, Paully,” Pockets told the boy. He was glad he didn’t need to be guarded with this kid. You need to be so careful what you say with most volunteers, with reporters and bloggers always sniffing around… with both of Pavel’s parents being shop stewards in the local unions, Pockets had no reason to question this one, and he liked being in the position of tutor. Maybe someday Pavel would rise to state rep, or state senator, or even alderman, and would fondly remember Pockets as the mentor of his youth. A nice legacy to leave behind when you’re gone.
“Your first duty as an elected official is to reward those who got you elected, right?”
Pavel hesitated a moment before responding. “Umm… right?”
“Of course right!” said Pockets, with a snort for emphasis. “You give jobs to ACORN, you appoint your fellow lecturers and teachers and lawyers and professors to top jobs in the administration, you reward the party bosses who endorsed you, and you shut out the ones who endorsed your opponents.”
Pavel was getting a bit uncomfortable with the direction this was going. “Well, sure, but there are limits, aren’t there?”
Pockets sat back and cracked open another beer. “Sure, there’s limits. But that’s why we have to win more offices. The more you win, the more jobs you have.”
“But don’t the newly elected officeholders have to give jobs to the people who put them there? So they’re already taken, so to speak?”
“Well, sure, Paully. The new Congressmen have a few plums to dole out – their appointment secretaries, their legislative aides, their office managers. But the important thing they bring to the table is another vote in the legislature – another vote for the President’s agenda. And when every bill is another five, or ten, or twenty thousand jobs… well, then, that’s really bringing patronage into the 21st century!”
“Okay, Pockets, I understand all that. But the New Black Panthers… that’s criminal, isn’t it? Don’t we have to lock them up? Doesn’t the President have to enforce the law on them?”
“Don’t you see, Paully? That would make us ingrates. If we locked up everybody who ever stole a vote for us, we’d never win another election, and we’d hafta hold our party conventions in prison.”
Pavel opened a bag of honey wheat braid pretzels (Pockets’s favorite snack… he was a sucker for them), and pushed the bag across the table. “So it’s all about the last election, then?”
“No, Paully,” mumbled Pockets through a mouthful of pretzels. “It’s all about the next election.”
Pavel’s eyes went wide as he began to anticipate the next paragraph.
Pockets continued. “See, that guy with the video camera did us a favor. If the last administration had just got some under-reported accusation of a little vote fraud, we would have just abandoned the case and let them off. The New Black Panthers in Philly would have known we repay our debts, but that would be that. Nobody would ever have heard of the story outside that little group.”
“But there was a camera. And a thug brandishing a nightstick. And people being scared away from the polls. And YouTube, our greatest friend.”
Pavel had to ask to clarify that point. “But YouTube is why the public found out about what was being done on our behalf! That can’t be good, can it?”
“Of course it can, Paully!” Pockets leaned in for emphasis… and maybe also because it brought him closer to the bag of pretzels. “If you’ve never been scared away from the polls by a thug before, you have no reason to stay home on election day. But if you now know there’s a risk of there being thugs there, brandishing nightsticks (or worse), maybe you’ll think twice before coming in to cast a Republican ballot. Right?”
Pockets motioned that Pavel should get him another beer, and continued as Pavel walked to the back. “We had no way of communicating with the public before, but now we do. The right meeting, the right message, and we can signal the whole country on what we have planned. Most of the American public didn’t know the risk before. You have to have guys stationed at every polling place in the country for that. But now that they all know there’s a possibility, you don’t need thugs everywhere. You can have a level of fear out there now, because now the voters know it’s possible.”
Pavel remembered something he had read about Project High Frontier in a book on foreign policy he was reading in secret. “So that’s like missile defense, isn’t it? You don’t have to be sure of hitting every incoming missile, you just have to demonstrate you can hit enough of them that the other side won’t start a nuclear war. Once you make them doubt their certainty of a first strike victory, they won’t attack at all.”
Pavel continued. “And that’s the theory here, isn’t it…we just need a certain segment of the public to think of the possibility that they might encounter thugs with nightsticks at their polling place, and they’ll be afraid to show up and vote. Right? We don’t have to keep half the public away; if we just succeed in scaring a couple percent away from voting, that could be enough to tip the balance in our favor!”
Pockets paused a moment to think about the missile defense argument, but dismissed it. Water under the bridge. Old news. He returned to the subject at hand.
“Right, Paully. That’s the idea. Thanks to YouTube, nervous independents and Republicans all over the country will now think of one more reason not to bother to vote. It won’t keep everybody away, but every little bit helps.”
“Another thing, Pockets… I still don’t see why Holder issued those rules that J. Christian Adams talked about the other day. “
“Who’s that, Paully?”
“That lawyer who used to be with the DoJ who blew the whistle on how the DoJ isn’t going to enforce the Voting Rights Act at all against anybody except whites… how it was passed for non-whites, so election-related crimes aren’t to be enforced anymore if whites are the victims.”
“Oh, him. Yeah, that’s right. Lucky for us that guy Adams got a microphone. We weren’t sure the message was getting out before, since the press sat on the New Black Panthers story forever. But Adams got our message out all right.”
“Our message? But he was blasting us!”
“Sure, Paully. He was blasting us… from the Republicans’ perspective. But not from our perspective.’
Pavel shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s easy,” explained Pockets, in his best fatherly tone. “What’s our message? Go ahead and steal like crazy. Steal every vote. Surround the polling places with thugs. Leave the pollsheets full of people who have died or moved away, so our judges can cast their votes for them when there’s a lull, or after the polls close when we know exactly how many we really need. Register the same person in three different precincts, or five, or ten. And don’t be afraid, because it’s now known that we won’t arrest you. Even when we have you dead to rights, we’ll let you go.”
“So, ummm…” Pavel said, slowly, “the dissemination of this story actually helps us, because by getting the policy out, we send a signal to all our supporters that they can do whatever they want, and they won’t be prosecuted?”
“Exactly, my boy!” Pockets was proud that his young charge was catching on. “President Obama couldn’t make a speech and say Go ahead and steal every vote you can, and go ahead and beat up anybody who’s not one of us. But he could appoint political DoJ staffers, all the way to the top, who would make it policy to refuse to enforce certain things, essentially giving carte blanche to anything they might want to try!”
Pockets pointed out that the New Black Panthers may be a small group, but there’s no end to the available number of street thugs, gang members, and other miscreants who enjoy beating people up, but for whom the fear of being arrested kept them from trying anything at the polling places in the past. “Once you’re told you have a free pass, you’ll do anything you can get away with, just for fun, right? This news story has been a recruitment poster for what the boss calls non-traditional campaign techniques.”
Pavel was beginning to get sick to his stomach as he understood what the DoJ was doing. This isn’t just reverse discrimination; it’s a coded invitation to criminals to commit a certain type of crime on election day, four months hence. Wow.
“How does the party manage that sort of thing? Do we have goons here at headquarters, Pockets?”
“No, son, we don’t get into that stuff. We leave that to others, so there’s no way to trace it back to us. We even like them to call themselves a ‘party’ like the New Black Panthers Party, so we can point out the difference. Just as well. I’m getting old, son; I don’t like that sort of thing myself. But it’s nice to know that if it’s gonna happen, at least it’s on our behalf, eh?”
Pavel sat quietly for a moment, then muttered “I wouldn’t say that.” To Pockets, he said “So, the DoJ isn’t just rewarding one criminal, he’s recruiting hundreds. Wow. I wonder if the public knew what kind of a government they were going to get with this Hope and Change.’
Pockets chuckled. “Well if they didn’t, they sure aren’t very bright, are they? It’s not like the signals weren’t there in 2008; Barry came from the Chicago Machine, after all.” He sat back and cracked open another beer, and pushed the bag of pretzels over toward his protégé, but Pavel seemed to have lost his appetite.
Copyright 2010 John F. Di Leo
This is a work of fiction, and any similarity with any person, living or dead, is unintentional. The Tales of Little Pavel were originally published in serial form in Illinois Review, from 2010 through 2016, and the full collection of stories about Little Pavel and the denizens of the 51st Ward is available in paperback or eBook, exclusively from Amazon. Republished with permission.
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international transportation and trade compliance professional and consultant. A onetime Milwaukee County Republican Party chairman, he has been writing a regular column for Illinois Review since 2009. His book on vote fraud (The Tales of Little Pavel) and his political satires on the current administration (Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes I and II) are available only on Amazon, in either paperback or eBook. His newest one, “Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volume Three,” was just published in November, 2023.
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