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Brace yourselves for the worst

By Walter Geiger The tension is in the air. You can feel it. It is an election year and there will be changes in those who govern – and, by definition, in government – at the local, state and national levels. Election season is upon is. Political fervor is a taut spring waiting to burst its bonds. Some people relish this season. Others dread it. Methinks those who dread the period from now to November outnumber those who relish it. Why? They don’t like the mud-slinging that has become normal in political campaigns. There are enough people out there who enjoy watching candidates and their families torn apart in the name of full disclosure. By nature, Americans are far more interested in eavesdropping on the arguments in their neighbors’ homes than properly settling those within their own walls. In that vein, we have come to expect low blows when candidates for office square off in the political ring. Issues-based races conducted with civility are the exception rather than the rule. We don’t hear great debates on matters of import. We hear candidates take shots at each other regarding past divorces and who grew up with the biggest silver spoon in their mouth. We hear double talk and sound bites. Our president won’t deliver even the most basic remarks without the aid of a teleprompter for fear of saying the wrong thing. Candidates tailor their messages for the audience of the day. Take, for example, the issue of abortion which has divided the country for most of my life. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a presidential candidate say, ‘Whether or not to have an abortion should be left to the woman, her doctor and her family. Government has no place in the decision-making process.’ That is the sort of answer that should make up your mind for you if abortion is your watershed issue in a presidential primary or election. It may not be the answer you were looking for but it delineates clearly a position on a major issue. This is the sort of clear positioning we need from candidates in races at all levels – statements that clarify the options before us. We also need that same clarity once those candidates are elected. It is unlikely we will get either so hope for the best but brace yourselves for the worst. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter.

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