Nothing beats fall.
The leaves are changing colors, the air is cooling around us and soon I’ll be able to break out the sweaters — making me even more cuddly and beautiful than ever.
For sports fans, flags are flying through the air as NFL games try to take place between penalties, drunken students hold R-rated signs behind the announcers doing pre-game shows for college football and baseball players consistently fondle whatever body part they appear to be concerned about at any given time between pitches of playoff games.
It is indeed a wonderful time to be alive.
And then, as is so often the case, the other side of the coin flips over and you see the down side to fall, particularly this year. Yes, I’m talking election season, of course, and even though we get excited here at the paper for all the interesting stories just waiting to develop in front of us, my personal side is not always as happy.
You see, I can’t stand rhetoric. It’s a personal peeve that makes the hair on my neck stand at attention, causes me to constantly resist the urge to cover my ears and shout to the heavens and basically makes me a very grumpy Darin.
Fortunately, we do not get as much of the two-party insanity on the local level that comes with national elections. Particularly in regards to town council elections, voters tend to really put their focus on the individual candidates, as opposed to gravitating right away to an “R” or a “D” on the ballot. There are many town council members in our community, for example, who I know fairly well personally, but have no idea what their political affiliations might be — they signed up because they want to contribute to the quality of life in their towns, and they typically vote for what they think will work best.
And I think most voters appreciate that, as you don’t get the silly name-calling and political generalizations that come during elections for other levels of governmental positions. But it seems the higher up the political food chain a candidate climbs, the more strongly he or she clings to the banner of partisan politics. No longer are the arguments over which individual can do more to serve the constituents — it becomes a dialogue over which candidate’s party means to do the most harm to the helpless American people.
If you are a Republican candidate, you demean your opponent by saying he or she wants to give entitlements to everybody who doesn’t work while you, the hard-working American citizen that you are, sweat and toil for nothing more than the opportunity to take care of someone else. If you are a Democratic candidate, you dismiss your opponent by saying he or she is against homosexuals or women or sunshine.
But, of course, it won’t. The parties generate the revenue, so the parties control the message. If you’ve been watching any of the political ads on television recently, you know the message is not one of good will to all.
Look, I’m not naive. I know mudslinging and dirty tricks have been around much longer than I have. It’s just that we have so much more access to it today. The Romans were infamous for uneven politics and bribing poor people for their votes, but they didn’t have blogs and online message boards back then. I’m pretty sure cavemen promised a brontosaurus in every pot and a pterodactyl in every driveway, while all along subtly accusing their opponents of ignoring the coming Ice Age and discriminating against those who hadn’t moved forward to upright walking yet.
Please, put down your letter-writing crayons. That was a joke. Not a stance on the veracity of evolution.
For some reason, there has been a plethora of campaign ads during my Hulu shows featuring candidates from Illinois. I’m not going to drag their names into this (largely because I don’t want to give them more publicity by having access to my four regular readers), but the one candidate, in particular, has seized on to the scare-voters-to-death strategy employed by so many politicians today. He talks about how his oppponent wants to “raise your property taxes” and give more money to his cronies.
Yes. I am sure that is the goal of everyone who seeks political office. Seize your elected position — the one that can go away just as quickly the next election as it came this one — and financially strangle your constituents to the point where everyone who isn’t in your Saturday golf foursome loses their homes. That’s just good politics right there.
I love that we have a democratic society that allows us to elect the people we want who have to make our tough decisions, and I fully embrace the notion of selecting our best and brightest to lead the way. We are a nation fortunate enough to have brilliant minds scattered across our fruited plains, and we are a society built on hard work and ingenuity — deserving of having the best leadership available.
With that being said, I beg the candidates, particularly in our local elections, to focus on what they will bring to the table to best serve us. How will you make our lives better should be the message, not what you dislike about your opponent’s party.
We’re smarter than we look. We can make informed choices.