The democracy we deserve?
By the time you read this, the fall election season will be just about over. I’m voting. I hope you do, too. As a wise man (or perhaps it was just a politician) once said, “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
We still must endure the removal of the campaign signs that blight the landscape. Clearing away all that debris will take weeks. Signs for the losers are usually the last to disappear, probably because the loser’s volunteers abandoned ship once the results were in. So much for idealism.
Unfortunately, bumper stickers touting the winning candidates never go away. Some winners just can’t help rubbing it in, displaying what I call bumper “snickers” for all to see until the NEXT election.
And speaking of roadside trash, there is a foolproof way to get abandoned vehicles quickly towed from roadside ditches. Spray paint the name of the local incumbent across the hood, along with the words, “Keeping your county beautiful.” A county-paid auto wrecker will arrive at the scene quicker than an ambulance at a traffic accident.
Anyone who doesn’t think that power corrupts should review the campaign budgets (from whatever source) for some of our local candidates. In many cases, campaign spending exceeds the total salary and benefits package of the office – for its entire term!
Local newsprint recyclers will be working overtime to process all the nasty campaign “literature” we’ve received in the mail here at Clear Creek Ranch. Not to mention that huge stack of pamphlets from fervent storefront proselytizers who managed to elbow the Jehovah’s Witnesses out of the way. And for all the inflated verbiage, I didn’t see any proof that one candidate or the other has more cloven hooves or has sprouted sharper horns. Or kisses hands and shakes babies, for that matter.
I gave up reading that partisan stuff years ago, although I do glance at it. One campaign piece was especially memorable. It featured a comparison of the two main aspirants on a variety of issues. A snapshot of each topped a column outlining their positions. One photo was a flattering studio shot, well-lit and in focus. The other was its polar opposite. One guess as to which camp sent me that piece.
The candidates know that no one reads their stuff. That’s why they telephone me at dinner time. An enthusiastic campaign worker chirps that her goal is to introduce her candidate to me and to “discuss the issues.” The only issue at stake for me is my privacy. Miss Chirpy and all her peers demonstrate that they can violate that right at will.
Worse than the almost human interaction that those calls provide are pre-recorded messages from the candidates delivered by their automatic dialing machine. Campaign workers say it is mind-numbing to deliver the same message thousands of times. The public agrees – that’s why we ignore it all, if we can.
Incumbent, or incumbent wannabe, it makes no difference. They all speak the same language: doubletalk, whatever it takes to get elected and to consort with strange bedfellows. Once in office, their true colors turn as dramatically as a hardwood forest in autumn. Yet here is an anomaly. The word “incumbent” actually comes from the Latin word “to lie.”
Perhaps, in a perfect world, there should be no incumbents. If they can’t get it right in one term, put someone else in there who won’t be able to, either.
Like I said, I’m voting. It only takes a few minutes. I’m getting a head start on the complaining.
That way, maybe I’ll be finished in time for the NEXT election.
Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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