This Unholy Mess


Napa Valley: The Emperor is Peeing on Your Shoes

So the battle is over: Measure C went down to a marginal defeat and Napa County must now pick up the pieces. The opponents of C describe the election campaign as “bruising,” and insist that now the two sides should come together. They want discussion, compromise, mutual understanding.
Sounds great! But before any of that, first and foremost they need a really good deodorant. Mennen Speed Stick or Arrid Extra Dry just won’t do the job in a case like this. The campaign conducted by “No on C” was not “bruising” so much as it was shockingly cynical and dishonest, a showcase of the rankest sleaze. It was hard to believe anyone would have the nerve to cook up the Trump-like disinformation that was included in the string of “No on C” mailers, but somebody would, and did. It was the locally famous Death Star, Muelrath Public Affairs, which on its website promises to help your well-heeled corporation deal with populist riff-raff who dare to speak up for themselves and their communities. (The website refers to these little people as C.A.V.E.: Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Such wit!)
Most shocking is the realization that Muelrath was hired by Napa’s vintners and growers associations, and that those groups must have signed off on the crude trash that was tossed in voters’ faces during the campaign. Is that possible? The great pillars of our community were willing to describe Measure C with garbage sign slogans like “Will Increase Traffic on Hwy 29,” and “Undermines the Ag Preserve”? They gave a green light to a flyer carrying Governor Brown’s picture (with the tiny caption, “This Photo Does Not Imply Endorsement”)? Below the photo was a bullet-point summary of a recent executive order regarding land and forest management that had nothing to do with C, and yet the flyer concluded with the statement “Measure C will undermine the Governor’s Executive Order and will prevent Napa County from protecting itself.”
Insert vomit emoji here.
So what is the average Napan to think? Having just absorbed this entire river of reeking slime at the hands of our county’s most respected and philanthropic organizations, we must now call it a day, toast some marshmallows, have a sleepover? Now each time we read about the vintners or growers making a generous donation to a local cause, will we be able to ignore the shame of this, the stench of it? There is no plug-in air freshener that is up to the job, unless you count the new product from Glade, a 40-pound chandelier of deodorant originally designed for the current Oval Office. I think it’s called “Industrial Spring Bouquet Hypocrisy Cleanser.”
Everything that “No on C” did was accomplished with the full belief that Napans would accept whatever the vintners and growers endorsed. They would never lie to you. The emperor is the emperor, after all, and he’ll always tell you the truth. The horror lies in realizing that the emperor is not just naked in this scenario. He’s kind of peeing on your shoes.
It is sadly inevitable, too, that our local political leaders should remain silent in the aftermath of this disgrace. What are they to do? Even the ones who were generally sympathetic to Measure C couldn’t very well call out the vintners and growers on their massive ethical lapse. Not without a solid understanding of the political suicide they would be committing.
So as we go forward, what have we got? A political establishment that is bound and gagged by fealty to the hand that feeds it, and, to be fair, that feeds many local residents. We have Napa wine trade associations whose memberships are made up of entities increasingly large and corporate, whose interests naturally focus more on fattening their bottom lines than on local quality of life. And we have the Little People, what Wall Street traders in 2007 called “muppets.” The people who drive to work on our roads, who scrape to pay property taxes, who drink Napa County water. People who love where they live, and will fight to protect it. With luck, these people will be heard and their needs met–hopefully without another election where they will need a hazmat suit to handle dishonest, scurvy political flyers.

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