Newsletter-Palooza and Pyongyang Psych Cyber-Grams

Maybe Kim Jong Un’s GPS mistook SoCal for SoKo, because the Ranch has been hit by a cyber psy-op storm of guck. Perhaps the RSFA election is to blame, but as we note in our helpful RSFA voting and candidate “cheat sheet,” it’s been a newsletter-palooza of mud-slings and muck-raking. And unless you’re naturally garbed with the Teflon genetics of the Gipper, you can’t help but feel a bit of the “ick” with all this heavy-laden detritus being chucked like RSF is the DMZ.

The questions to be asked are: “Is this what we want, Rancho Santa Fe? Is this who we are?

With all this technology it seems we’ve forgotten how to communicate and interact with each other, with civility and humanity. We’re not robots…yet.

And maybe that’s what elections do: test our humanity, and who we want and what we want to represent us as a collective whole. It’s like when I lived in New York City, heaving with this visceral corporeality of all these confluent lives – this pulse of raw survivalism; you witness the best and very worst of humankind. Political and public figures can inspire, resolve conflicts, create solutions, and lead by example. Or they can disappoint, stoke fear and division, and smear others, rather than debate ideas and solve critical issues. 

And perhaps this is what voters, and all of us in what should be a civil society, ought to be thinking about when ticking that ballot, both nationally and locally — from POTUS right down to our very own RSFA.

Come-to-Kumbaya Moment 

And, no, I haven’t doused myself in patchouli oil and cemented my hands to a runway with Greta.  This is not some come-to-Kumbaya moment. But we can plod on with the tedium of cud-chewers, perpetuating this political zeitgeist of tribalistic fabulists endlessly accusing one another of smoke and sophistry — or try, just a tic-tac, to climb outside of our dogmatic boxes, soften the tone and rhetoric, acknowledge one another, listen to what’s being said, and give a little (it goes a long way) for the sake of compromise and our collective sanity. 

It was bad enough in previous Board election seasons that neighbors were snatching yard signs, publishing candidate Social Security numbers and snortling around in public divorce records looking for a dirty truffle. And with the heat of the DOJ’s breath having just about faded from the Ranch’s PPP-wringed neck, flirting with the IRS by attacking an RSFA-eligibility-approved candidate’s residency and tax status, seems particularly hostile and self-destructive. We’ve already got the plague of insurance companies piling on to disastrously dump our home policies. What next, industrial bait for locusts? 

While ping-pong’d crudities pawned off as erudite public discourse may ephemerally titillate, they don’t ultimately resonate. Voters want to hear about the real issues candidates are stumping on – from fire safety and village revitalization to speed-limit enforcement and Osuna renovation. As of May 31, about 70 percent of our community has yet to complete their two ballots and vote. We hope our “From the Horse’s (Candidate’s) Mouth” is able to help and inform.

Conflict-Resolution Revolutionaries 

Let’s make sure we’re choosing leaders on the issues, and who can lead by example – with civility and humanity. A few years ago the Board adopted a “Standards of Conduct and Ethics Code for Volunteer Board Members, Officers, and Committee Members,” aka Codes of Conduct. This seems like a good time to revisit this and perhaps have the newly elected sign on to adhere to it to ensure they are held to certain standards of behavior and are treating and representing each and every member with dignity and care. We need more conflict “resolutionaries,” peacemakers, and Swiss neutralists – ideological militants a la Haitian Barbecues, not so much. And if leaders Fauci it up, they should own up and come clean, because it’s always the cover ups that really cost. 

The above is particularly critical when age-old conflicts continue to arise. You’d have to be Helen Keller wedged under a rock, or as rare a find as an impartial New York juror in the Trump trial,  to not be aware of RSF’s non-golfer/golfer great divide. It’s as intractable as Team Coke vs. Pepsi, Toilet Roll Under vs. Over…you get the gist. One shell-shocked Covenant newbie once likened it to Nationalists and Unionists in Northern Ireland, but even these two sides eventually accepted that they were in a permanent relationship where one could never have a “final” victory over the other. 

New Blood 

But maybe with some new blood on the Board we can tackle this endless division and get some sort of Good Friday Agreement signed ourselves. I know it’s a dumpster fire of hope, about as promising as deprogramming a cult member, or a Paul Krugman fiscal-conservative conversion, but even Nietzsche would beg God to Divine this issue to stop.

An RSF Post Forum contributor explained why this issue is such a trigger: “The fact is RSFA Golf Club is not a traditional private club given its intertwining with a broader HOA and community where a majority are not golf members. So there is a built in conflict that puts otherwise well meaning residents against each other on certain issues.” Gary Krisel explains this entanglement further in “Our Golf Course Going Public? Let’s Focus on the Facts,” where he writes that the club “is neither a public course, nor a private club. It’s a common amenity…”

As a new voice on the Post who has decided it’s time to stop complaining on the sidelines and to get involved, Philip Shapiro also raises some issues about the Association’s relationship with the Golf Club, in “RSFA Annual Budget: Who Is Paying for What?”

These debates can feel dizzying at times, and one vicious circle contributor Peter Jupp wants stopped dead in its tracks, is the “roundabout runaround.” He argues that while roundabouts sound like a good idea, it’s not a matter of if, but when, traffic lights are inevitably installed. 

Vacuum the Pollution

Let’s stop wasting our talents attempting to character-assassinate one another with words and acts, sucking every last drop of joy out of our town. Let’s work together with our elected leaders using civility and humanity as ground rules to find common ground. Maybe a monthly Harkness-Table-type workshop on tough topics with a mediator, like Manager Dominique Albrecht, who is well-versed in managing public policy discussions and keeping emotions in check. Or perhaps a Golf Club program where golfers and non-golfers who want to play meet up for a tee-time; or some other olive-branch extension of limited-access good will. I know it’s a touch cringe, okay? But we’ve got to start somewhere. There’s nothing lost, only gained, in principled diplomacy.

Let’s call it the great Ranch Reset. With the election upon us, it’s only apropos to use campaign parlance, so instead of “drain the swamp,” the slogan could be “vacuum the pollution,” just like that new Icelandic-based giant named Mammoth, ingeniously gulping up atmospheres of dirty carbon air for the common good. We’ll collectively agree to Hoover up all this trash talk wafting about like fecal-filled Pyongyang psych-warfare inflatables. I know, not so catchy, but I never called myself James Carville, people. 

Elections Matter. Vote! 

Rachel Laffer is the editor of the RSF Post, and Covenant resident.