Henry stepped out of his air conditioned apartment and onto the sidewalk. His glasses immediately fogged over. He couldn’t believe how incredibly hot and muggy it already was this early in the morning.
The forecast called for the temperature to approach 100 by mid-afternoon, with close to 100% humidity. The early morning air was so thick and heavy that it felt as if you could cut it with a knife.
As he started his eight block walk from his apartment to his office, Henry’s head filled with the old Lovin’ Spoonful’s song, “Summer in the City.”
Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
The Nation’s Capital, this almost unbearably hot and humid city, this incredibly beautiful and culturally rich city, is the seat of power in the most powerful country on the planet. This is where it happens and, as a registered lobbyist, Henry knows that this is the only place he could possibly be.
Yet it isn’t the beauty of the city that keeps him here. And it certainly isn’t the weather. This is the city where the movers and shakers are. And Henry believed, as surely as he believed that the sun would rise in the east and set in the west each day, that he was the best of them.
He hadn’t been elected to any office, and he doesn’t have any constituents back home to serve. They are the hoi polloi and he wants nothing to do with them.
He doesn’t have to please liberals, conservatives, moderates, or extremists. Henry’s one and only constituent is his employer, a major player in the military-industrial complex. That’s the only master he has to please.
Henry doles out the big bucks to those who play the game by his rules. He can go to any member of Congress and buy support on critical legislation that benefits his employer.
All he has to do is show them the money, promise, for example, to get a major project to the congressperson’s district, one that would employ thousands and would generate much needed tax revenues. All the congressperson has to do is to agree to vote a certain way.
Conversely, he can guarantee that a congressperson’s district will be shut out of any such projects if he or she votes a different way.
He can funnel millions of dollars toward candidates’ campaigns for reelection if they support him, or make sure those funds go to their opponents if they don’t.
Henry is a man with more influence on the direction the country is moving than most of those who were elected by the suckers back home. Partisan politics has paralyzed the federal government and the only “votes” that really matter are those that can be deposited into offshore banks and into anonymous, untraceable accounts, the “votes” with dollar signs on them. Big dollar signs.
As Henry arrived at his office, he thought about this beautiful city in which he lived and worked. And he thought about how hot and humid it was. And he felt that the back of his neck was, as the song said, “dirty and gritty.”
But deep down inside, Henry knows that it’s actually the entire city that is dirty and gritty. He knows that it’s actually his own heart and soul that are dirty and gritty.
Isn’t it a pity?