" I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve"
Admiral Isoruku Yamamoto, Dec. 7, 1941
These words were reportedly spoken by Admiral Yamamoto after the attack on Pearl Harbor.Being a military genius, the Admiral understood there are three facets to success in war. Operations. Tactics. And Strategy. First, the attack was an overwhelming operational success: A complete surprise, with very few losses on their part. Second, it was a moderate tactical success. A number of battleships and other vessels were sunk or damaged, but the U.S. carriers escaped unscathed and the largest fuel depot in the Pacific theater, which was located on the other side of Oahu, was untouched. Third and more importantly, the attack was a strategic failure. Why? The American public was so incensed that it came together in such an unprecedented fashion that ultimately Japan lost the war. The Admiral grasped this final point too late.
How does this relate to local politics you ask?
I see parallels in the current state of affairs in Augusta today. It seems we have too many people in positions of power who forget that it is we, the average citizens, who are the sleeping giant. And with the advent of social media and blogs such as CityStink and it's sister page Augusta Today, it will become harder and harder for them to run their fiefdoms as they see fit, all the while thinking we are dozing in blissful ignorance. The truth be told, I'd love for every elected and appointed official to have the Admiral's words run through their brains every night before they fall asleep.
You see, they are very adept at operational success. The "old timers" have been running things behind the scenes in Augusta for generations. From the Cracker Party to the Southside Mafia to the current crop of pseudo-crony-capitalists. Point of disclosure: I'm a conservative, so I have no problem with capitalism nor the profits made by capitalists. I just have problems with whispered "tips" about upcoming government projects or a certain right-of-way about to be needed. Provable? No. Probable? Little doubt.
There's your operational success.
Recently there have been missteps when it comes to tactical success. Among other things, recent deals concerning various downtown projects have been sidetracked by "nosy" citizens who just won't leave well enough alone. Mixed use stadiums, parking decks, etc. , causing various members of Augusta's "ruling class" to have to reverse engineer explanations for what REALLY happened. Hmmm….Okay…. All the while acting as if we, as average citizens were "idiot's" to even question their motives, accompanied by a compliant local 'large media conglomerate" on board as well.
There is your moderate tactical success.
This brings me to the final point, their strategic failure. I believe the greatest mistake our elected and appointed officials make is to use the word "divisive" when being questioned by a citizen, ANY citizen. Is it divisive to expect a commissioner to account for how he arrived at a decision? Of course not. Is it divisive that protocols and procedures aren't followed, causing us to distrust the very body that makes laws that we as citizens have to follow? Of course not. And will we as citizen activists continue to watch the votes they make, the rules they break and who they give the breaks to? You bet…….And ideally the citizenry will eventually become motivated to the point that no elected official in his right mind would dare break his solemn oath. One can only hope.
Underestimating the will of the people would be a major strategic failure on their part.
One must understand that my commentary isn't meant to be an indictment of individual members of city government. I'm not in the "naming names" business, however, this is a stern reminder to these same officials. Remember who you serve. And it isn't the guy who helped you get a membership at the country club, or the businessman who made sure you had tickets to "the tunamint"
Sadly, the ruling class in Augusta has a long history of operational success. They have a recent history of moderate tactical success as well. But their strategic plan is fatally flawed. They see the paradigms of the past. Where everything flies "under the radar". Where "you scratch my back and I'll scratch your's " is accepted, even encouraged. With any luck, those days will be numbered. With forums such as these, we will do our best to hold them accountable. A word of advice to those in power…...you may win the battle, as Yamamoto did….. but with history as a guide, we'll win the war.
You may just awaken that sleeping giant after all..***
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