Where elections are concerned, I used to have a hard and fast rule: I would not vote for ANYONE who bashed his or her opponent in campaign advertisements. It didn’t matter what I thought about the issues or the candidates. If a candidate couldn’t spend his or her energy telling me how good a job he or she was planning to do, and instead focused on telling me how bad a job his or her opponent was going to do, then I deemed that the candidate was not of the character that deserved my vote, and I discarded him immediately.
And then came the day that my own rule left me no one to vote for. Not a single candidate stood without a stone in his hand.
So I didn’t vote that year.
And I regretted it. Not immediately, and not as a direct result of the winners’ actions. I regretted it eventually through an understanding – and an acceptance – of our political process.
Newsflash: there are no perfect politicians.
Closer-to-home newsflash: there are no perfect people. I should really stop looking for them and expecting them to run for office.
It is human nature, when attacked, to fight back. Rare is the person who can turn the other cheek. Even more rare the person who can turn the other cheek and still win an election. But I believe that any response should be an answer to the original accusation, not an attempt to deflect attention to an entirely separate issue. As an example:
Accusation: “My opponent voted 9 times out of 10 to kill puppies.”
Unacceptable Response: “My opponent says I voted to kill puppies. What he didn’t tell you is that he voted to open strip clubs in every school district in the state. If you care about your children, you’ll vote for me.”
Preferred Response: “What my opponent has stated about me is false. My record shows that I voted consistently against the killing of puppies. If I am elected to serve you fine people, I will continue to vote against puppy-cide and work to implement a puppy protection agency where people can anonymously report incidents of puppy abuse.”
I mean really, is that so hard???
I wanted so badly to just abstain from voting again this year. Fuming one recent morning over my perceived lack of quality candidates, I stopped dead in my tracks as I entered my office building. This poster greeted me and gave me cause to re-think my position on the whole political mess.
I do hold a prejudice against politicians in general. I assume kickbacks and special-interests and pockets lined with thirty pieces of silver. But prejudices are unfair. They are stereotypes. And they don’t serve to make me or my community any better. What will make my community better? My active participation in the process.
So, despite the fact that there was not a single campaign advertisement on my television that did not slander and defile political opponents, I voted this morning. I put all the negativity out of my mind, and I voted for the people whom I hope are not inherently opposed to my core values.
It was the best I could do.