The campaign season is here, which means the drum of negative dis-infomercials in which the target’s face is contorted to make him/her look like a serial killer who would slash your throat if given the chance has begun. Dis-infomercials are broadcast for a simple reason: They work. Mush-minded, gullible voters fall for them and do their bidding: “CALL so-and-so and TELL him/her he/she is a horse’s derriere!”
That’s a negative of American elections. The positive: It’s the opportunity for every citizen to prove his/her citizenship worthiness by voting.
Running for office, like being an op-ed columnist, can be a risky endeavor. One sets him/herself up for public exposure and becomes a target. The smaller the community, the more personal it becomes.
This year’s Clear Creek candidates deserve respect and admiration for stepping up, so a high-five to each. Since ballots will be mailed mid-October, they have about six weeks to present the case about why he/she ought to be a voter’s choice rather than his/her opponent(s).
There are multiple ways for them to do so: public forums, knocking on doors, radio interviews among them. But for a voter to receive that information, he/she needs to attend the gathering, be home and available when the candidate knocks, or be tuned in to KYGT at a certain point in time. What are your odds?
There is, though, a near-universal way for candidates to present themselves and to put their positions out for review: Their website.
Candidates’ websites serve a critical role in 21st-century electioneering. The beefier, the better. It’s helpful to know a candidate is not a felon or loves four-wheeling, but in the end, the voter needs to know what the candidate will do if elected.
Some websites are better not because of their optics but because they contain useful information that helps voters learn more about not only the candidate’s positions, but which issues he/she sets the highest value on. For example, Jared Polis’s (D) and Walker Stapleton’s (R) websites have copious amounts of information. On Polis’s, health care gets prime real estate; on Walker’s, “sanctuary cities.” Immediate insight into their pantheon of values.
Collectively, the Clear Creek candidates’ websites, unfortunately, are largely résumés, laundry lists of credentials and personal background but with little substantive meaning. At this point, only one expounds on major Clear Creek issues.
On one site, a candidate declares, “I CANNOT (sic) imagine attempting to come in to this position with absolutely no experience.” I can because every non-incumbent office-seeker is hoping to do exactly that. Every candidate this year running for commissioner or clerk and recorder has zero experience in the job he/she wants.
While there are overlapping skills, having been a good mayor does not guarantee one being a good commissioner. The offices’ functions are quite different. Similarly, having been an assistant does not guarantee a person has the leadership skill set to take number one’s place. It’s through the on-the-job school of hard knocks, one ultimately learns and becomes a pro.
The Peter Principle, being promoted until one reaches his/her level of incompetence, has become etched in the American consciousness. In education, some of the most incompetent teachers are among the most qualified content-wise. Often, they come from industry or the military, brilliant in their disciplines, but with little clue about how to get students to learn.
In 2017, when the Denver Broncos went into a tailspin, they turned to Brock Osweiller who had tutored under the great Peyton Manning. Putting it charitably, Osweiller was ineffective. Current quarterback Paxton Lynch, the team’s 2016 number-one draft pick, has a great résumé. Not so charitably, Lynch is a bust and has become a liability to the team.
One beauty of democracy is that there is no line of succession. Public offices are neither inherited nor awarded to the next-in-line. Candidates must make their cases to the voters, who owe each candidate due consideration.
Candidates’ résumés, visual imagery, and high-minded platitudes offer little guide to them becoming effective office holders. It’s not about a candidate did but what he/she can and will do. Ask John Elway.