In Jonathan Swift’s 18th-Century “Gulliver’s Travels,” Gulliver travels to Laputa, a futurist Utopia where leaders “are so taken up with intense speculations, that they neither can speak, nor attend to the discourses of others, without being roused by some external taction (tapping) upon the organs of speech and hearing.” For this reason, the rulers kept a “flapper,” a domestic without whom the leader never “walks abroad or makes visits.”
“The business of (the flapper) is to gently strike his mouth, eyes (or ears), with a bladder (filled with dried peas, or little pebbles, on the end of a stick).”
If the subject is worthy of a hearing, the ruler gets a “soft flap on his eyes or his ears.” The subject’s fate, and the ruler’s response, depends on the flapper.
The floating island kingdom hovers over certain towns and villages, “from whence he might receive (his subject’s) petitions.” To this purpose, “several packthreads” are let down, to receive people’s petitions, sometimes accompanied with favor-seeking “wine and victuals.”
Swift’s keen foresight captures today’s attempts to petition senators and representatives.
Sen. Pat Roberts recently deigned to stop by, meeting not with the people, but primarily with Chambers of Commerce. He’s “not interested in headlines.” Nor listening to constituents, apparently.
Jerry Moran at least holds occasional town halls to let down his “packthreads.” After running the gauntlet of interns, wait-in-line voicemails, emails deliverable only through cumbersome online forms, and patronizingly canned response letters, constituents are rightly excited or frustrated when face-to-face with their senator.
In Palco, the tension was palpable as an approaching Kansas thunderstorm, or the wailing ghost of the old UP train which, back in 1888, ran daily through Palco and the senator’s nearby hometown, Plainville.
Us plains folk were responded to, a little, by Moran. But coming up is a Moran-championed “Flat/Fair tax” plan that is flat-out wrong, eliminating corporate taxes and leaving most of us at the mercy of the big bad billion-buck boys.
Don’t let ’em do it. There are enough of us to get past the flappers.
We, the unflappable, can cause a flap.