Could it be Fayette County has decided to roll back the time clock to back-of-the-truck politicking and antics that would make the folks at Tammany Hall look like members of the Boy Scouts?
“A healthy democracy requires a decent society; it requires that we are honorable, generous, tolerant and respectful.”
Judge Charles W. Pickering. Let me tell you - the honorable Mr. Pickering would be truly disappointed with Fayette County politics.
I know it’s been awhile since I’ve covered elections here, but it seems that I’m seeing more sideswipes than the parking lot of a convention for the near-sighted. About 20 or so years ago (yeah, I’ve been here awhile) the race for county commission was one mass of nasty comments, sign stealing, anonymous letters and phone calls and the kind of backstabbing that would be right at home in a mob meeting.
It was pleasant that there were a few candidates who had the integrity not to get involved with the kind of mud-slinging.
Then, things seemed to level off for awhile. People were...pleasant when they disagreed. Even when they were running for office.
This year, however, it seems pleasant has gone out the window in favor of shock tactics. Find out what the voters fear most-- crime, taxes, a change to their way of life, transit-- and then let’s rattle the boogeyman in everyone’s face to scare them into voting our way. That’s just plain wrong when you don’t use all the facts to do it.
Now, I’ve talked to just about every candidate in the race- any race- this year. They all seem like pleasant, level-headed people who, for the most part, don’t have anything mean to say about anyone and aren’t likely to sling some mud. They are all passionate about serving Fayette County. I think, for the most part, they mean well.
However, there are others, not candidates, who aren’t above that kind of politicking.
I don’t have a problem with fair, face-to-face fighting. Get in my face and I’ll fight back man-to-man (so to speak). But when you do an end run, I have no chance to defend myself or my stance. Hence, it’s not fair. Yes, I know, who said life was fair-- but maybe I should have said just. It’s not justice when accusations are flung at the last minute and the subject isn’t given the opportunity to fight back.
And, maybe they shouldn’t. Maybe taking that high road shows the voting public a little something about their character, too. The real problem, is that most people only remember the mud being flung, instead of the truth.
A few months ago, I noted that when the redistricting was put through, then dashed, potential candidates were ticked off and it wasn’t because they felt so passionately about serving, it seemed. It was more that the person they wanted to run against was in a different district. What? Why? If you want to run, run for the seat. Never mind the person occupying the seat. Your job as a candidate, as a potential public servant, isn’t so much to prove that the guy/gal in that seat is a miserable, scurrilous, dastardly human being who doesn’t know what their doing and is leading the community into a hell it may never return from. Your job as a candidate is to prove that you can do a better job.
That’s it - you have to be able to convince the voters that the devil they know isn’t better than the devil they don’t. Simple, right? It can be done without accusations, digging up past personal faux pas, casting aspersions on their character, family or finances.
If you stick to the issues, stick to the facts -- all the facts please, not just the ones you like--people will respect you for it. I really believe that when mud is slung, it’s usually because it’s trying to obscure issues surrounding the one doing the slinging that need to come to light using misdirection.
Frankly, I want to thank the candidates who have kept everything on the issues. You know who you are. And for those whose fingers have gotten a tad...tarnished, well, let’s say that I believe you’re going to find it’s hard to hide those dirty digits when all is said and done. Whether you win or lose.
Cooper, a Peachtree City resident for 22 years, has been a book reviewer, writer and editor for several national magazines since her original stint at Fayette Newspapers, Inc.