Pine Nuts: She cleaned city hall until she became mayor

In Russia’s managed democracy of this 21st century, sometimes, though not often, an underdog candidate will actually win an election. It’s rare as hens’ teeth, but it happened a couple years ago in the tiny village of Povalikhino. The incombent mayor was in desperate need of an opponent to fill out his official looking ballot, but everybody knew the odds, and nobody would step-up. So the mayor asked city hall janitor, Marina Udgodskaya, if she might be willing to place her good name on the ballot as his opponent. Marina must have rolled her eyes and thought, “Oh well, what the hell!” Because she acceded, and amazingly, she won.

Marina suddenly found herself to be the honorable mayor of Povalikhino, and of course her first order of business was to hire a reliable replacement to clean city hall, then the good mayor took to procuring streetlights for the village. Such an anomaly can happen in a small Russian village, but in cities or national elections … Nyet.

Politicians in Russia are constantly on the lookout for capable actors who might effectively pose as loosers in pseudo elections. It’s their home grown version of the Oscars. Yes, in Russia’s managed democracy it has happened that an incombant would actually lose an election, yet what are the chances of once poisoned and now incarcerated Alexei Navalny beating Vladimir Putin? Well, Navalny’s chances of unseating Putin are about as good as Gennady Zyuganov’s, the mannequin of an invisible man who has lost three times to Putin in laughable elections for president of Russia. This is what a managed democracy looks like, and this is what America is slip-sliding toward while we sleep.

As our democracy slowly erodes, our two hundred year motto, “One Man One Vote,” has lost its street cred. With the escalation of gerrymandering, voter suppression, misinformation and conspiracy theories, the fabric of our democratic society is being torn asunder, while a lingering pandemic exacerbates the process.

So what can we do to preserve the healthy democracy that has served us so well for so long? Well, we could capitalize, italicize and amplify the word, “SERVE.” When an elected official is sworn into office the word “serve” should be accentuated so as not to be confused with, “sovereign over all you survey.” Some very good people, when elected to public office, tend to let their morals get mushy, and their ethics vaporize altogether. They seem to care about nothing but their wealthy doners, and getting reelected.

Over time, we will end up with the government we deserve, so let us try to make it the virtuous kind, a wholesome democracy to guide our ship of state through the troubled waters that might lie ahead. Vote your conscience, I will vote mine, and let’s see where our fragile democracy lands in this 21st century.

Oh, and congratulations and every success to Marina Udgodskaya …


Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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