No Dog in This Fight, Non-responsive Responses, Dimissiveness and Bullying

At a meeting the other night during a discussion of a local issue, an official made this comment. He said, ” I don’t have a dog in this fight.” That statement made several of us sit up in our seats. My friend, sitting next to me asked, “exactly what do you mean by that?”

The problem was that we were talking about an issue that is extremely important to our area, to our community.

So you don’t misunderstand, the official is a good person who really cares about our community. But, like most politicians, they are so beset by problems and issues that sometimes they just can’t handle one more thing.

I know what he actually meant, he meant that what were talking about was out of his jurisdiction. But I think his statement is an indicator of a bigger problem.

After working for over 30 years with humans of all ages in many different situations, I have noticed one thing. When it comes to facing difficult situations or problems, most of them would rather remove the problem quickly with the least amount of effort and time. To do this, I find they use many approaches, but I’m going to talk about four of them, No Dog in the Fight, the Non-responsive Response, dismissiveness, and bullying. I have experienced all four in the last week. As I keep delving into the political venue, I’m sure I will see more tactics. But, these are the focus of this post.

Remember the official who had “no dog in the fight.” This is a polite way of telling someone that you aren’t sure how to solve their problem and the problem doesn’t matter enough for them to take the time and effort to figure it out. So, like Pontious Pilate, they wash their hands of it.

Problem is that it seems that most of the concerns of the American cititzens are falling into this status with too many politicians. And, quite frankly, if you think of Washington D.C., they really don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to the problems of the normal citizens, those who pay the bills, their actual bosses.

For example, let’s take Nancy Pelosi. ( BTW, I heard a great nickname for her today, “Gestapolsi.” So accurate.) While she wants all of us to wear masks, she hosts a $30,000 a plate fundraiser where the staff have to wear masks, but her guests don’t. You would think she would be empathetic to the servers out in the hot California sun, toiling away in their masks, sweating, breathing in stale air. But no. Not her dog. Not her fight. Her fight is her power, her money, her agrandizement.

The next tactis I saw this week was the “non-responsive Response.” Our local school superintendent decided, unilaterally, to impose mask mandates on our school children. She took no board vote. Many parents wrote to her about this. One particular letter was heartbreaking as the parent of a first grader explained how her child no wonder wanted to go to school because of the masks. When the mother asked the child if he/she would rather stay in the current school with his friends and masks, or move to a private school with new friends and no masks. He said the second one, even though he loved his current school . The Superintendent responded with some generic bullshit, you know, “thanks for your opinion, doing what we think is best, concern for all students, see you on the first day,” and on and on with banal comments that were probably created by her lawyer.

The most pathetic thing is that ALL parents who wrote letters got the same copied and pasted email. Weird for a Superintendent that claims to care for each child in her small county. But, the non-responsive Response was the go to, it’s easy and you can’t get sued for it.

But, I guess that response was better than another one my friend got. It was the dismissive response. The email was about all the research regarding masks and how harmful they are to children. The council member in question mentioned something about the information the council member got from him sources, you know, the not crazy rabbit hole ones. Except my friend used real science from the CDC, the WHO, etc. Clearly the official who wrote it envisioned my friend sitting in his tinfoil hat while typing. What he doesn’t know is that my friend is ten times more accomplished than the official. And even if he wasn’t, does a public official have the right to be dismissive of the opinions of a constituent? I don’t think so.

The next tactic is bullying. I witnessed this the other night at a County Council meeting. We had over 100 parents who were protesting the recent decision by our local school Superintendent to mandate masks in the schools. She decided this without a school board vote, and timed it inbetween school board meetings so that the parents would have no forum for voicing their opinions before the beginning of school. So, the parents went to the County Council, who can not overturn that decision. The parents knew that, but they wanted a public place to speak their minds. This is their right as American and county citizens.

One of the council members, who had his mask on, decided to take it upon himself to inform the huddled masses waiting to speak. He told us that this was not the council’s jurisdiction, that speaking here was useless, and we were wasting his and our time. The arrogance dripped from his fully masked face.

One thing I have learned is that there is only one way to deal with bullies. And that is to hit back hard. So, when it was my turn to speak, here is what I said, paraphrasing, ” The people who are here to speak know it is not your decision. They are here because the decision was made without hearing their opinions and they want to speak out before school begins. You are elected and it is your job to hear their opinions. So, if you think I am sorry that you have to “waste your time” listening, I AM NOT.” And I went on.

I’m not telling you this to make myself look good. I’m telling you this so that you know we have to fight back and fight back hard. That Council member, and the rest of them, listened.

If they tell you they don’t have a dog in the fight, prove to them that they do. If they send you a form letter that is non-responsive to your questions, force them to throw out the form letter and write a real answer. Publish that non-responsive email everywhere. Show everyone. And then keep writing emails, every day, every week. Demand a response. Out them in public meetings. And don’t take their excuses.

If they are dismissive with you, inundate them with your sources, your qualifications, your right as a citizen to be heard. And every once in a while, be dismissive to them. A carefully placed “phtt” or a look down your nose at them will certainly punctuate what you think of their ideas.

Finally, if they are a bully, hit them back hard, not physically but with your attitude. Stand a little taller, look them in the eye and let them know you are NOT backing down. Most of the time, these bullies will tuck tail and run. They truly are cowards who only get their way when others back off.

Patton once said, ” May God have mercy for my enemies because I won’t.” Are the people mentioned above enemies? Some are, some aren’t. But, when they act like they are an enemy by using these tactics, they deserve what they get. And if that means you use their dirty tactics against them, so be it.

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I am a 67 year old runner and conservative. I taught for 31 years and retired a few years back. In my life, I have coached and judged gymnastics, coached softball, and raised two amazing kids.

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