By Josh Skinner
As a proud latchkey kid, I state that I learned everything as a young lad from television. Television makes us give a damn about stuff that we really couldn’t care less about normally. The two best examples of this rule are Lastweektonight with John Oliver, who on a weekly basis makes millennials across the world care about issues that normally do not breach the public conscious. The second one is Game of Thrones, who used its fifth season to broach conversations about religious fanaticism by shoehorning a religious coup into the plotline.
This season however has made me think about something else, not the power of women, or the power of dragons in a medieval context. Rather, this season made me think about how important civil servants are to cities.
Civil servants are the worst, until they switch from doing their job with the expedience and excitement of a tuna on ketamine to not doing it all. These workers are often underpaid and almost always underappreciated, and rarely get love letters from the law abiding taxpayers until a garbage workers strike results in trash mountain in a public park.
If the civil servants of Canada wanted to do so they could start their own city of civil people doing civil things civilly. With a total population in Canada of 257,000, they could form their own civilization. Instead they stay working as indentured but paid servants to we the people, through thick and thin.
In Canada, we really don’t fuck with change. It took until about 1982 for us to patriate our constitution, meaning that we really didn’t have our own constitution until culture club was something that you could find in a high school and the billboard top-50. Recently we changed the lyrics to Canada’s number one hit song, the national anthem, to be more gender inclusive and dudemans went to their social media accounts to throw hissy fits about the decline of Canadian civilization.
America doesn’t have these qualms about massive constant shifts in society. They were at the forefront of engineering when they found a way to insert kraft dinner into cheetos. This should come as no surprise since until about the 1960s they did a very similar thing with their civil service at the end of every election, in a process called “to the victor go the spoils”.
This is a process in which the civil service is replaced by those who helped the the winning political party in the election. This is of course frighteningly similar to the “mac’n’cheetos” satan spawn in which Americans put things into stuff, but don’t ask whether they should put things into stuff. This lead to consistently tumultuous change which in all likelihood has led to the decline of America much more than a few key edits on a national anthem ever could.
Luckily, America avoids this, only giving the most senior positions in departments to those who helped them in elections. Like Canada, the bulk of the workforce in unchanging, without emotion and without a care in the world for your problems
‘But what about the Game of Thrones you promised at the beginning of the article?’ Well now we’re there.
The civil servants in the Game of Thrones universe show why it is necessary to keep the correct political affiliation out of the job prerequisites for the most senior positions in society. The last season of Game of Thrones has been tumultuous, and has raised a harem of thirsty questions on behalf of this politics major. How is Mereen still a functioning city without a queen? How are things still happening in Kings Landing despite 4 major regime changes in just as many years?
Seriously, how does Khaleesi with the triple D(ragons)’s get up and just bounce in the most nonchalant manner during a full on military coup in the fighting pits and fail to cause a massive collapse in her city? Literally people were revolting hardcore, and the next time we see our intrepid dwarf him and his peckerless companion are strolling around the streets contemplating life.
The answer is dedicated civil servants who do not give a damn about the flavor of the day, or anything. They treat common citizens like houseplants when asked for help. They spit in the face of authority because without them, garbage piles up, children are lost when they fall into a pothole of immeasurable depth, cities crumble.
The DMV or service Mereen offices pay no mind to Dany Triple D(ragons) and whether she’s in town or not, they are there to provide subpar and infuriating service to the people of Mereen. They don’t care or see much of a difference between whether or not the people on top of the chaos ladder use dragons or slavery to enforce their rule, because civil servants know that they have the power, and they love it.
Kings Landing is also a prime example of the enduring power of the Civil Service when it isn’t tied to current power structures. Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark, Tyrion Tar-Lanister Joffrey La-Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Tommen Lannister and The Sparrow. All of these characters have been in some way deposed, banished, or killed in what amounts to six years for us but what some hypothesize to amount to a period of about three years. That is no less than eight total shifts in government ranging death from boardom for ole king Bobby Bats, to Tommen’s fall from grace.
These disruptions in power have caused no less than: a bloody siege at the battle of the blackwater, a dwarf purge, a religious military coup, and a genuine terrorist attack. Yet the city still functions, from what the viewer can tell, things continue to move forward and the city staff are present for Cersei’s coronation.
HBO programming makes us care about stuff that we didn’t give a hoot or nanny about prior to seeing it happen; commercial free, with nipples and occasional foreskin. So let’s just take in the real message that GOT is trying to send us this year, which is that civil servants matter.