Vail Daily column: High bar for local politics
October 30, 2014
You have missed something important if you lump the locals with the lower leagues of politics.
This lesson rises up every year right about now.
The money slides toward the low ballers running for national office and alas seems calibrated to disgust us.
Still, we all hate Congress, yet always vote for our incumbent. We all say we're sickened by the gutter level where our politicians have sunk in practice as well as campaign.
And the campaigns! Worse and worse every cycle.
My hope is that our cynicism finally bottoms out. That's the only way that going negative no longer will work. Till then, we can express our disgust in conversation while all that filth and scandal asserted in those commercials lingers just enough to sway us when we fill out our ballots.
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We get it because we respond to it. Simple as that. Basically, yes, we're played for fools precisely because enough of us vote like fools to put those folks in office.
But I kindle hope for the future. This cycle can only change at some point. In time, I see more and more of us adopting this simple rule: Ignore all the ads, fliers, everything. Recognize them for the nonsense they've become.
We don't like the partisan junk, for good reason, but ideology does matter. Call it shorthand for political philosophy. Corrupted as they may be, conservatism and liberalism at least provide thematic direction.
I say vote according to your direction, and your sense of where the pendulum along the range between these two poles should swing next.
So much the better if you look at voting records and have some understanding about how the candidates actually think. This is the quicksand of our times, though. Beware of where information about them comes from.
The ads are entirely unworthy, reliable only so much as they are guaranteed to be ridiculous and false. News and analysis and commentary depend on where you get them. We no longer have different conclusions about the facts. Too easy. Our "facts" now vary according to the purveyor.
Society has entered the lawyers' lexicon in which "true facts" must be separated from mere "facts." You have yours and I have mine.
So confusing. That seems to be in the interest of campaign operatives, too. The more voters are confused, the easier they can be manipulated with the emotional tugs inherent in commercials. Especially those sheep's souls who just "hate politics." Well, their self-imposed ignorance that just renders them more vulnerable, not less.
Our only relief comes locally. At the county level and closer to home, we have at least a relative oasis. The people running these offices are our neighbors. In almost all cases, their interest is genuine.
The few nuts with agendas outside what they believe best for their community seldom reach office, thankfully. A few others find it difficult to separate their personal interests from our public ones once in office.
The bulk of our citizen representatives, while far from perfect, will serve us well. Their campaigns tend to be respectable. Even the hotter campaigns focus on public life and issues rather than personal stuff. Truly negative campaigning, when someone gets infected with the state and national bug, has always backfired from what I've seen.
Partly this comes from more of the populace understanding local issues better. Mainly, though, this is the grocery store effect.
Newspaper people know this well. Odds are high in our still-small community that you will bump into the folks you write about, and their friends and family. Sometimes, what you have to write is tough stuff that you don't get to dodge. That creates a higher bar than what your typical metro paper hotshot reporter or columnist must negotiate while being oh so sharp and witty. We often know the people we hurt in the course of doing our job properly. I can tell you that changes a lot, and for the better.
Our community's politicians have the same bar, the same person-to-person accountability to each of us. That makes all the difference.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at email@example.com and 970-748-2920.
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