2012

31 October 2012: Research carefully before casting your vote

Research carefully before casting your vote

I’d like to take credit for a wag’s summary of one debate  performer coming down to the letter B—Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets—but journalistic ethics combined with the residual effects of my guilt-ridden Catholic upbringing won’t allow me.

It’s a matter of character, the reason I found myself, for example, on the side of thoughtful conservatives and their rightwing outliers when it came to Ward Churchill, the erstwhile University of Colorado professor who called September 11 victims “Little Eichmanns.”  As a card-carrying ACLU member, I defended his First Amendment right; but as a teacher, I couldn’t overlook the charge of plagiarism.  That spoke more to me than his contemptible utterance.

The question of character can be looked at from at least two ways: questionable or depth of.  I look at Mitt Romney, again for example, and see more of the second: A shameless self-promoter who while not evil is a shape-shifter, one who will appear in any guise to tell you whatever might work at a given moment to garner your vote.

The question I pose is whether that is worse than exhibiting literal fraudulent behavior, as in the corrupt official with his/her hand in the public money cookie jar, which seemingly describes Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

In all my years in Clear Creek, I’ve met only a few of questionable character.  But then it turned out their characters were beyond questionable; they were fraudulent.  So it goes.

I have met others, though, whose characters are not deep, but superficial and ingratiating.  I find them irritating.  I prefer people who make no bones about where they stand, even those with whom I fundamentally disagree.

As a student of human behavior, I’m intrigued by what motivates individuals to act or verbally respond in a particular manner.  At times, those on the campaign trail act on principle and at others from a sense of self-importance.

Candidates can sport powerful egos or sacrificial-lamb complexes.  That comes with the territory.  The strongest are a mixture, demonstrating self-confidence tempered by awareness that they are not indispensable and if elected would be public servants, not entitled royalty.  Those being too much of one usually don’t survive the electoral process.

That gets at the problem of the Mitt Romneys of the political world:  Pedigree or simply being a good ol’, aw-shucks type of guy doesn’t qualify one for office.

It speaks well then about candidates who understand their defeat, while personally painful, is most often not a devastating loss for the community.  It’s the reason those of deep character follow the time-honored tradition of congratulating their opponents and either endorse them (after a primary) or offer support (after a general election).

It speaks well too about down-ticket candidates who are willing to work against their self-interest to insure the top of the ticket, a more crucial office, wins.

It’s a delicious irony, as I dub it, that in this whacky world calling out a behavior results in a messenger being called a name-caller, which then makes the one calling the other a name-caller a name-caller him/herself.  So it goes.

Sometimes, however, people are what they do or say.  Intellectual honesty demands we call them out for what and who they are.

The so-called birthers, those who challenge Obama’s Americanism, are more than mean-spirited; they’re as racist as Bull Connor of the Civil Rights Movement infamy.  Patronizing males, especially those who believe a conception that is a result of rape is a gift from or the will of God, are more than overbearing; they’re cultural cousins of fanatics who see fit to pour acid on and shoot young girls and women for daring to exert their basic human rights.

Being the chair of my party, a regular columnist in our one weekly publication, and talk show host on the only radio in the community has necessitated a balancing act.  Blatantly endorsing my party’s candidates by way of my other roles has been tempting, but not nearly as strong as my devotion to my journalistic standards.

I admit to being frustrated by those who base their judgment on fear, on snapshot events without taking time to study who and where candidates are, or on a visceral reaction to a previous campaign loss, but to think voters will base their judgment primarily if not solely upon my perspective or recommendation is not only ludicrous and delusionary but also condescending.

Having said that, I would be remiss if I don’t doff my cap to friends who happen to be my party’s local and state candidates—Randy Wheelock, George Clark, Bruce Brown, and Claire Levy—and to the one leading their ticket, the all-American Barack Obama.  Knowing them well, except for The Man himself, I will vouch for the in-depth character of each: strong and deep.

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