The worst part of elections is the campaigning. But until we decide to find a better way of choosing leaders, we have to recognize the limitations of both those who serve and those of us who cast ballots. The best we can do is just vote and hope we get what we deserve.
Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been doing.
People I know who are willing to talk politics could be divided into two general groups: Those who are absolutely certain that they have all the answers, and those who have more questions.
Those with all the answers use the word “fight” a lot. I get tired of political ads in which candidates or their supporters promise to “fight” something. Everyone who runs for office seems to be convinced they have to fight for something, or against something.
Another cliché is the abuse of the word “change.” This is the real issue in our elections right now, from the local school board to international politics. Even the conservatives want change — they want to change what was changed back to what it used to be.
A friend asked me who they should vote against for the school board. I chuckled. I get the joke. I preferred to keep the list short and tell him my vote will be based on character, experience and performance. Hot issues like masks or schools being closed in a pandemic or the need for redistricting are difficult, and require an open mind, not a campaign slogan.
It’s not always as simple as the differences between liberals and conservatives. Solutions usually work best with considered thought and compromise, then bold action to support something that works, not just to garner votes.
History celebrates war heroes, but the really great people in history were the ones who knew that peaceful accommodation with others — neighbors or nations — is in the best interests of all concerned. The trick is to have a fair exchange, so no one gets cheated. All nations do that; some are pretty good at it and others, not so much. Too bad we don’t do as well among our own citizen populations.
Only the bullies insist on winner take all, whether speaking of foreign trade, national or local politics. We’d be better off without political parties, if you ask me.
Traditions, cultural values, racial differences and the push and shove of ignorance and misperception are tested in every encounter in business or in public policy for a town, county, state or nation. Such encounters require character, honor, candor, and the ability to listen as well as to articulate reasonable advocacy.
So, finish the campaigning; enough fight talk. I’d like to see more candidates reassure me that they do not have all the answers, but will diligently continue to work with others to fix what is not working and support principles, ideas, and reasonable investment of public money in what will work for the common good, and not just the Us part of “versus Them.”
Dean Minnich served two terms on the county’s last three-member board of county commissioners elected at large.