From my Writing Room
Copyright © 2022 by Uwe Bahr
It was reported that in Georgia, Union County’s sole commissioner Lamar Paris contracted the coronavirus. That’s unfortunate. As probably the sole German citizen in Union County to whom the thought of acquiring property here, of all places, has occurred, I take this opportunity to wish him a speedy recovery.
However, the senior civil servant may not care much about recovery wishes from such a side. Already in the past, he saw no need to respond to a request sent to him by e-mail from the alien German. This question was simply in reference to the use of tax dollars for a proposed shooting range that apparently has not been completed to date and wastes tax dollars from just about every resident.
Can Mr. Paris do pretty much whatever he wants? It is not for me to question his performance, and certainly he did not invent the system of his own one-man show. But in fact, in that regard, he is someone who is quick to have the boardroom cleared as soon as there is too much opposition to him. When I hear something like that, dark memories come back to me.
As an old political observer on both sides of the Atlantic, it is a complete mystery to me how somebody like Mr. Paris can function in a democratic sense of pluralism. As a contemporary witness, I saw a lot of the “socialist” dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic (GDR; back then elsewhere commonly called “East Germany”) during the Cold War – a state that was anything but democratic and consequently not a Republic. There, too, – in a dictatorship it must be remembered – a district commission existed, consisting of several members though, unlike today in Union County. They “voted” on everything possible, but usually these votes ended unanimously, for only one party controlled everything. Such an institution could certainly not be called democratic.
In the United States of America, still a Republic and allegedly the freest country in the world, it seems outlandish when a single person in public service can de facto say: The party, that’s me. Moreover, according to malicious tongues, Mr. Paris has claimed to be the only one who is up to the task. Somebody like a modern Jesus, in other words.
Self-praise stinks from heaven, says an old German proverb. For Paris pats himself on the back and thus feeds the suspicion of seeing himself as an irreplaceable autocrat, an impression that may or may not be justified.
How things resemble each other – one should not even think it possible. In the GDR, the dictatorship in which I was born and grew up, the comrades cheered each other on. Their party held all the power. They thought themselves infallible. I have the unpleasant and hopefully false feeling that Mr. Paris would have liked that.