Andy’s Civic Responsibility

Three episodes in and Mayberry has its second group of self-important outsiders that offer problems for Andy as well as opportunities.  Bobby Fleet and his Band with a Beat rides into town in a clunky bus full of raucous musicians.  They make a beeline for the local watering hole and cause a scene, harassing the waitress and insulting the town.  Andy witnesses the whole thing and he tries to cool things down, but his focus is more on a local guitar player with a wellspring of talent.

Jim Lindsey seems to be Mayberry’s appointed troubadour.  He has a habit of playing his six-string on the sidewalk, drawing enthusiastic crowds but frustrating business owners.  Mayberry’s mortician pushes Andy to arrest Jim, giving the humble sheriff no choice but to sentence the young man to a night filled with picking and grinning and Aunt Bee’s chicken and pastry.  While Jim is in the tank Andy tries to persuade him to take his talents to New York but the young minstrel lacks the confidence.

The next dNeoGriffithism 1.03 The Guitar Player jailhouse rockay Jim has gone on his way and Bobby Fleet rides into town.  Andy arrests the entire band based on his creative interpretation of a parking law and has Barney bring Jim back in for questioning.  He’s convinced that once Bobby hears Jim play he’ll want him to join the band.  Jim is resistant to Andy’s ploy and Bobby doesn’t want anything to do with a hick guitarist.  Eventually Jim takes enough of Fleet’s insults to feel compelled to prove him wrong.  He starts playing and the band slowly joins in.  After a little jailhouse rocking Fleet offers Jim a job on his tour and they ride that tour bus into the sunset.

 

Sidenotes

  • This is the first of a few appearance of Jim Lindey as played by James Best, best known as Roscoe P.  Coltrane in Dukes of Hazzard.  I don’t want to give too much away but let’s just say that humble, innocent Jim telling a boisterous, insensive jerk of a city slicker that “I don’t rightly care about the money” and “the most important thing is am I good enough for your band” might not have been the best start to a business relationship.
  • Andy makes a brief, vague reference to Elvis Presley, raising questions about the time period the show is set in.  Griffith said that it “had a feeling of the ’30s” but Presley was born in 1935.  I suppose Mayberry exists outside of time, with one foot in the past and one in the present of the 1960s.
  • This episode marks the first reference to the show’s geographical setting in North Carolina.  Jim says that he bought a pick in Winston-Salem, roughly 38 miles from Griffith’s hometown and Mayberry’s supposed inspiration, Mt. Airy.

Modern Mayberry

Jim Lindsey’s biggest problem is a crisis of confidence.  He underestimates the value of his talents and he doesn’t believe that he has much to offer the world outside of Mayberry.  This is something I have a fair amount of experience with and, along with many other people, have experienced something of a breakthrough on.  I have recently come to fully realize something I have always known on some level; that everyone’s opinions matter and they should voice them frequently.  More specifically, there are at least a few people in everyone’s lives they should voice their opinions to; their legislative representatives.

There is a common belief that contacting one’s representatives is an action reserved for the most extreme circumstances.  There is also concern that busy Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen don’t have any interest in the letters and phone calls sent by the ordinary people.  Some may believe that voting is enough and there’s no need for one’s participation in government to go any farther than that.  I have some good news on all these fronts.

Contacting one’s representatives is easy as pie and as American as the apple variety.  Here’s a handy guide from Consumerist.  I’ve personally sent several messages and made a few phone calls recently.  It only takes a few minutes to draft up a couple sentences and make a phone call.  You say what you have to say, the staffer on the other end says “thank you, I’ll pass that along to the Senator,” and that’s that.  Sending an e-mail might be even easier, unless you like to write several wordy, persuasive paragraphs with strong language about the essence of American values like a certain writer.

It’s also in the best interest of representatives to listen to their constituents.  How can they represent their people if they don’t know what the people they’re representing expect from them?  Ignoring voters is a good way for a Congressperson to find themselves out of a job.

Some might think that voting for someone who shares their values is a good enough way to ensure that they are represented.  Unfortunately, the most recent election is proof enough that a vote doesn’t necessarily mean that the elected is a perfect exemplar of the voter.  Voting is a wonderful thing and everyone should do it, but there’s nothing wrong with taking your civic engagement a little farther.  Indeed, one might argue that it is a duty and a privilege of every member of a democracy to be as active in politics as they are capable in order to insure that our government remains one “of the People, by the People, for the People,” in the words of Abraham Lincoln.  I would also offer the somewhat more blunt words of another great president, Teddy Roosevelt, who said “The people who say that they have not time to attend to politics are simply saying that they are unfit to live in a free community.

What would Andy do?

As a government employee himself Andy Taylor may have more influence than most.  He would surely use that power judicially.  If an issue arises and he knew something had to be done about it and if it was out of his jurisdiction, he would reach out to a legislator to make his opinions known.

More importantly, Sheriff Andy is fully aware that he serves at the pleasure of the citizens of Mayberry.  The people under his protection are known to come through his office regularly with their concerns and Andy always does his best to help.  There is not a single voice in town that falls on deaf ears in the presence of Andy Taylor.

What do you think Andy would do?  Do you like his plan to get Jim and Bobby Fleet together?  Have you ever reached out to a representative?  How was the experience?
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6 thoughts on “Andy’s Civic Responsibility

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