In a small blue collar cafe I overheard a table of people talking about what qualities a good Seattle City Council member might possess. Top of the list was: Would they have good sense? Chortling followed, interspersed with bursts of laughter, as they suggested various life experiences they mused would prepare a candidate for office. Included were some serious questions like: Would they be aware of the challenges of living in a growing city? Would they listen and talk to us?
Someone mentioned a story where George Bush senior was apparently dazzled by a scanner in a grocery store. So isolated from real life experience, he had no idea they existed. They went on for half an hour laughing at every suggestion. It became a game of nonsense that made a lot of sense. Here's a sample of the questions we all should have asked, if given the chance:
Have you any had any jobs other than government or non-profit work? When you were little what did you want to be when grown up? Were you raised in Seattle? If from somewhere else where and why did you decide to move to Seattle? Have you ever been broke? Have you ever maxed out your credit card?
If you smoked a joint did you inhale? Can you shop for a family of four, a dog, and goldfish and get it home without a car? Have you been a baby sitter 24/7 for your own or a friend's kids? Can you change diapers? Have you, as an adult, spent a day in a K-12 school classroom? Have you owned or run a business of your own? What was your first job? Your last?
How much do a loaf of bread and a half gallon of milk cost? Have you ever had dinner in a truck stop and talked with the locals? Have you ever built anything with your own hands? Have you walked in most of the city'ês neighborhoods? Is your name in the phone book? Have you gone to a union meeting for the building trades? Have you walked in a downtown alley at night? Do you regularly visit thrift stores?
Have you hiked and backpacked in Washington? Have you failed one or more classes in school? Have you ever wanted to be a preacher? When you're ready to vote what kind of information do you look for and whose recommendations do you trust — the voters pamphlet, newspapers, civic organizations, blogs, campaign literature, endorsements, stump speeches, or answers to questions you would ask if you could?