“Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength,” – Eric Hoffer, The True Believer.

Anger politics has arrived in Fountain Hills. It has actually been here for several years. Anger and group intimidation have been used over town services, COVID restrictions, mask requirements, school curriculums and others. Some politicians see angry wedge and cultural issues as a way to project strength.

The sign ordinance has become the latest vehicle. It is the Mr. Potato Head of town politics – a local issue rebranded as an “anti-business” controversy and highjacked by political opportunists to sow anger among citizens. The leaders of this movement are well known and obvious – current political leaders and former politicians whose resentment arises in part from being out of office and not replaced by their chosen heirs. Anger messages and calls to action are spread on closed Facebook forums to those who follow the anger leaders.

The leaders often recruit others to be their messengers. They have tested surrogates in the past to carry their political poison messages. Those surrogates failed.

The latest empty vessel chosen to advance the anger agenda is Town Councilmember Gerry Friedel. Name recognition is one goal. Rudeness is one tool used to enhance his public and political profile. Image over substance is the means.

Friedel’s chosen tactics are a series of outbursts at Town Council meetings and in the press. They include unsupported claims and accusations directed at other Council members. Outrage, confrontation and projecting an image of strength through rudeness are the themes.

If Mr. Friedel is to continue as the empty vessel carrying the latest message of political anger, he might consider this advice from novelist Kurt Vonnegut, “We are what we pretend to be, and so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”