This may be an allegory or it may just mean that I’m bored on a Friday afternoon . . .
I learned my tendency to ignore scorecards from playing miniature golf at the beach. No matter how many holes I sink with one putt, either my ten-year-old son beats me with some improbable shot or some huge menacing plastic gorilla on the back nine grabs my golf ball. Then my son just laughs and laughs.
My scorecard obliviousness carried with me when I was elected to the House. At the end of my first year I was surprised at the number of special interest groups that graded arbitrary parts of my voting record. I really hadn’t noticed that they were grading me. I was just voting. But I did think it odd.
It was as if the miniature golf gorillas had formed a club to keep tabs on the players. Then they decided to create a scorecard to track how players performed. The scorecard would focus only on those holes where gorillas hang out – you know, eating ants and chewing on the occasional cigarette butt while waiting on the next unsuspecting player. The scorecard could then be used to raise money from their gorilla benefactors. It was a brilliant gorilla idea.
Scorecards are effective gorilla tools (as long as they have those jumbo number 2 pencils handy to check off the score. They really find tiny golf pencils awkward.) Scorecards keep the gorillas happy by identifying those players most to hate. They keep their benefactors happy by making them feel part of the solution – a solution that only benefits members of the gorilla club.
Don’t get me wrong, I certainly believe that huge menacing plastic gorillas have the right to form clubs and look out for the interests of their gorilla members. Gorillas have the right to narrowly construe their scorecards to downgrade those players who most successfully putt the ball by their opposable-thumbed grasping gorilla hands and into the hole. Gorillas have their role to play on miniature golf courses. I welcome their participation especially when they stay true to their stated mission.
What happens when the gorilla club focuses on something that’s not pertinent to their mission? Like maybe a member doesn’t like the flag pin on the 18th hole, even though his hole provides him with all of the ants, cigarette butts and golf balls that he can devour.
Maybe something about that flag pin doesn’t seem right – color, design, shape – so the gorilla club decides the 18th hole should have no flag pin and puts it on their gorilla scorecard. Players who putt with the flag pin up are graded down. Players who remove the flag pin to putt are gorilla heroes – even though there are no gorillas on the 18th hole.
Suddenly a line has been crossed. The gorilla club has diluted its integrity by focusing on an issue that clearly does not affect them. They have confused the players and have rendered themselves as ineffective and nonthreatening as the windmill on the next hole, just gently spinning in the breeze.