Potatoes of a Notable High Temperature (and Other Political Dilemmas)

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I understand what motivates most of the simple things in life. Like, why do the flowers grow? They grow because of the sun. Why do the children laugh? They laugh because they are happy. Why do dogs sit, lie down, roll over and play dead? They do so because they want a doggie biscuit. Why does the early bird get up so early? He gets up early because, if he does so, he gets the worm. Why do I go to work? I go to work because, more than bankruptcy, I fear my wife.

But what motivates politicians? That’s what I’m pondering today. What does motivate these glorious people to do the wondrous work they do for the good of the little folk, like you and me? What motivates them to sacrifice for the good of all of us?

The obvious answer is that these great people are placed upon this earth with a mission from god. They walk among us mere mortals to help solve our deepest dilemmas and to heal the pain of strife. They are uniters, not dividers, of course. They are here to bring us change.

They all probably secretly wish that they were rock stars or famous actors and actresses with chauffeurs and millions of adoring fans. But, they aren’t, and they haven’t the talent to be so — nor do they have the drive to work so hard at something as difficult as Show Business — so the next best thing to being a rock star and not having to work at a “real job” is to be a politician and to act like they are important and are doing something useful.

Oh, my. There’s my selfish negativity showing through again. When will I ever learn and be able to share with my fellow man for the greater good like our politicians do? Why can’t people all learn to love one another?

I guess I just don’t have the stuff to be a good politician…

But, as with the great leaders of the past, our politicians today — these giants among mere mortals — often have a heavy burden to carry. They have their one identifying key issue that sets them apart from all the rest. All the great presidents and political leaders have them. They all have their defining issue. They all have their hot potatoes.

I figure that’s why the current president, Barack Obama, has lost so much popularity, there just isn’t anything important enough going on right now for him to really sink his teeth into. He hasn’t found any important steamy potato issues by which he can identify his presidency yet. I hope he does soon find an important issue to tackle. It makes things so much easier for politicians if they can do so.

It’s like Anthony Gregory once said to me, “Let’s rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic as it’s going down!” Genius! I hope that Obama finds his true calling and latches onto a politically over-cooked potato as soon as possible. What president Obama desperately needs to help his flagging popularity is his very own piping hot potato. He needs something really important happening so that he can attack the true issues in real time! Damn the chives and butter! Full speed ahead!


My hero George H.W. Bush and me at an Amway convention in 1995

Here’s an idea: How about something important like passing a law that makes it illegal for, say, space missions to the moon to have left-handed gay pilots, who hated their father, yet loved their mother, and didn’t have fish for supper, or something like that?

I’m sure that’s the kind of hot button issue that any politician would love. I know I can identify with that.

Who could forget the great George Bush the First who selflessly laid down his political career and his lips so that he could stop the scourge that was wrecking havoc on our great republic? Remember how George, one of the good guys, fought tooth and nail to stop the bad guys from burning the flags of this great nation? Oh, the nights of sleep I lost and the fingernails I chewed over that crisis… Thank god that we had George to lead us then.

Or remember that presidential guy who started that war in Albania because of the sex scandal? I can’t remember his name but he kept us on the edge of our seats as he continually denied that Albania didn’t, or did, have the weapons he claimed that they didn’t have… Or they did have… Or something like that… See? I could never make a good politician. This sort of thing hurts my head.


I can’t remember what political party this guy worked for, but he did a damned fine job!

In Japan our politicians are not to be outdone by the west. They, too, have a heavy cross to bear.

Why, just yesterday I was out by Shibuya in Tokyo and I saw a political van in front of the station with a guy with a loudspeaker blasting away about a truly terrible scourge that is gripping the nation of Japan. This problem strikes fear in the over three to four people in the entire populace who even care. No, it’s nothing like the government red ink that’s nearing 200% of GDP that’s going to bankrupt the nation and send half the aged population into economic disrepair; that’s nothing. No, it’s nothing like those idiots actually wanting to raise our sales tax from 5% to 10% (that includes 10% tax on basic foodstuffs like rice, eggs, milk); that’s nothing. No, it’s not the issue of banning men’s beards in the workplace either (but now we’re getting close).

No, it’s none of these unimportant minor issues.

The issue that these politicians were so vehemently against ranks right up there with the most important of deck chair arranging in history. These Japanese politicians have designed their entire political platform around a hot button issue that absolutely must be on the lips of every Japanese person of all ages; this brave political party has taken up the most blazing of over baked potatoes in Japanese history. They wish to deny the right to vote amongst legal foreigners in this country; a right that legal foreigners in Japan do not currently have.


“I against giving the right to vote to those five or six people who wouldn’t vote anyway!”

I, for one, am against this political party and their platform; for since I am a legal foreigner in Japan and do not have the right to vote anyway; I do demand the right to voluntarily not vote.

I also believe that we should tax all foreigners living in other countries.

So, in this important issue, count me in… or out… or in. Whichever the case may be.

(No offense to two politicians I do respect: Ron Paul and Chris Christie.)

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He is the president of an Internet & Cross Media advertising/marketing agency and a media production company named Universal Vision. He writes about marketing, the Internet and Social Media at the Modern Marketing Japan blog. His book, Schizophrenic in Japan, went on sale in 2005.

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