this town ain’t big enough for the two of us!

L to R: Thomas McGuire, Judge George Preston, Adam Trenk. [New York Times]

On June 15, the good people of Cave Creek, Arizona were scheduled to sit back in the Cave Creek Town Hall on Cave Creek Road and watch as the Honorable Judge George Preston presided over his civic duty to break the recent deadlock in the local council election.

The election resulted in a stalemate between Adam Trenk (25, law student) and Thomas McGuire (64, incumbent and retired Science teacher) as the good people of Cave Creek could only assign each candidate an equal sum of 660 votes. In a statute dating back to 1925 in Arizona’s constitution deadlock results can be determined by “a lot” – a game of chance. So the Right Royal Honorable Judge Preston took a deck of cards, and after removing the jokers, shuffled and asked each candidate to draw one card. The candidate drawing the highest possible card wins. The Lord High Executioner Judge Preston brought his gavel down hard, lopping of McGuire’s head, and waving the victorious King of Hearts announcing Trenk as the new city councilor. McGuire could only muster up a Six of Hearts.

The game of chance could not be determined by any form of skill by the two candidates – so no play offs could occur. No paint ball competition, no ace’s high round of poker, no skips around a Monopoly board, no elbow thrusts in a game of darts down at the local pub, no being swaddled in a leather laplap with a net and sword as accessories and being thrust into Thunderdome to duke it out until one man left. Nope, it had to come down to shear unadulterated blind luck and chance to see who would take the seat that would assist govern the good people of Cave Creek.

The good people of Cave Creek have been reported to be very pleased with their ties to the past, to the old west. The idiosyncratic rules and legislation were the backbone of how the west was won and conquered. But these are strange days where a presidential election can more than likely end up in the courts to determine a result.

How of course would this determine more infamous, if not historical, outcomes? Maybe George W. Bush and Al Gore, rather than tying up the courts in Florida, could have instead rolled a dice in the 2005 Presidential election? Imagine how the world would have turned if ol’ Georgey Boy had rolled Snake Eyes?

Consider even the wider implications if such legislation was applied to the outcomes of the law making process? What if Roe v Wade (the now famous landmark 1973 case in which a woman has a right to choose to terminate a pregnancy up until 24 weeks and a right to privacy) came down to the choice of a rectangular, laminated playing card? And as President Obama considered the rights of same sex partners of employees in the federal government, you can bet that they sure as hell are pleased that the decision will not come down to the turn of a pair of tiny cubes with smooth edges and dots on each face representing six different numbers.

Where does the line get drawn? And why?

Some say that this is a profound statement on democracy. Some might even say this is a profound statement on the validity and seriousness (or lack there of) of local government.

Some might even go as far to say that we get the government we the voters deserve.


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