We've had some upheaval lately in our usually-peaceful, laissez faire economics department and I've learned, first-hand about a common addage:
The less there is to fight over, the bigger the fight.
Our current department chair is going on leave for a year, leaving the slot open for some sucker to ramp up for a year only to give the position back to its original owner.
Being the least senior person, on top of going up for tenure in the fall, I am in an awkward position. [Think Mike Meyers as the Cat in the Hat when he made a sexual comment about the kids' picture of their mom: "Awkward"].
The two logical stand-in options are currently-published-full-professors, and are adversaries. In private conversations, they have refused to cooperate if the other becomes chair.
One is somewhat of a "good-old-boy" although he might resist that label and all of the misunderstandings that go with it, and, as it turns out, he is relatively innocuous in his good-old-boy-ness.
The other is an 80's-style feminist who, while she has not incorporated the contributions of post-structural feminism and queer theory into her personal politics, she has made large contributions to the campus in terms of work-life policies. I can honestly say that my life is and will be permanently improved because of what she has done for the university.
So, its been a week of politiking.
If I vote for him, I betray her. If I vote for her, I just look like a party-line feminist. And all this for a thankless position with zero-to-negative influence or power and for which the course-load buy-down barely makes up for the opportunity costs associated with the extra administrative tasks.