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Thoughts to ponder as election season dawns

With the end of the qualifying period last week, election season is upon us. While civil debate on the issues of the day – and there are many – would be welcome, we won’t get much of it. What we will get is bitter, partisan politics and political rhetoric often designed to camouflage the actual facts of the matter. So, as election season kicks off and the political promises roll off silver tongues, take a moment to pause and reflect. People, particularly on the local level, generally do not enter politics for personal gain. At the outset at least, the vast majority feel they can do the job better than the incumbent and get involved in politics to make their worlds and those of their constituents better places. It would be nice if the public would give candidates the benefit of the doubt. Running for office is no picnic and serving in office changes one’s life considerably. Imagine shopping for groceries and getting lambasted at every turn about this or that pothole or the fact that the tap water turned brown all of a sudden. Georgia is a state of political parties and political primaries. One gubernatorial candidate opted not to run as a Republican because he did not want to sign a loyalty oath to the party. For a party to even consider such an oath is contrary to our system of free elections. The two major political parties are at ground zero of much of what makes politics such a dirty game. Candidates distancing themselves from those parties and the partisanship they foment is actually a good thing. Leaders – Republican and Democratic – need to take a long hard look at their agendas and give them as much thought as their platforms. Think of how much less divisiveness there would be if all elections were nonpartisan. There is little question there would be more emphasis on problems and solutions and less emphasis on rhetoric and mindless personal assaults. Another thing that creates havoc politically – particularly in the south – is district voting. There is no question cities and counties were served by better councils and commissions when those running for office had to pass muster with every voter – not just those in their neighborhoods. These are things that likely won’t change for a generation or two. However, you can start cleaning up partisan politics yourself. Try not to criticize candidates personally. Pick apart their performance and platforms if you wish but leave the personal hatred out of it. Also, tune out the endless, dissonant drone of party rhetoric. Make your decision for whom to vote based on facts not shrill political posturing. Finally, get involved. Attend meetings. Judge the performance of those who represent you personally. The picture you come away with may be totally different from what you have been led to believe.

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