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The Politics of Nostalgia


February 14, 2013 by wcobserver

Observation Post by Steve Winkler

The Politics of Nostalgia                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Every town has a past, not every town has a future.

West Fork may not have a website or digital storage of public records, but by golly, we have social media in town. Last fall a facebook page appeared called West Fork Politics. Used as a vehicle for candidates for office and as a discussion forum for issues the group grew to over 150 members, most of whom were spectators. The dozen or so active commentators act as both entertainers for the majority and occasionally provide something informative. It’s primarily an “us and them” arrangement where opinions are predictable. And, as it is with social media, the rudeness and vitriol in the delivery can sometimes overwhelm the content. An administrator keeps order and occasionally reprimands a commenter or even removes a post.  How unfair.

After four months the whiners got more vocal, complaining about somebody “hijacking my thread” deleting their posts or comments or just being rude (on the internet?).  Accusations of “censorship” and complaints of this or that erupted until one high profile member announced she is moving her unappreciated, good- ole-gal humor somewhere else and started West Fork Politics II.

Disgruntled facebookers from WFP migrated to WFP II and immediately embarked on a collective trip down memory lane. One commenter after another reminisced about old school teachers, who owned which stores, cutting class, and how wonderful we all are. Bonding abounded.

One person’s question about what the relevance of all this good ol’ days gushing had to do to politics went unanswered.  It was a good question.

The answer to that question was voiced by Caroline Smith years before it was asked on facebook. Seventy- something Miss Caroline, was a regular at council meetings in the pre facebook days several years ago.  She has since moved to Springdale (and gotten married) but made an appearance at the February council meeting to the delight of many in the room. Miss Caroline’s outspoken honesty, fearless interpretation of West Fork politics was, for the Observer, a refreshing addition to the drabness of council meetings around 2010. One could say she was less than impressed with Mr. Bartholomew’s fog filled presentations at council meetings. She addressed him as “Butchie.”

She is articulate, on point and some might add, verbose. But no one doubted her honesty and insight. One of her favorite rhetorical devices to make a point went something like this:

“If my grandfather didn’t go to grade school with your grandfather, I guess my opinion doesn’t matter.”

Is that politics?



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