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October 19, 2010

Screaming Into The Wind

Farrell Keough

Oh, the joy of ‘negative campaigning’ is upon us! We are all getting slick colored letters telling us how terrible this or that candidate is or how harmful this or that slate will affect our county. And, since we are sheep, we know these negative mailings are absolutely correct! Phish posh!


Like it or not, ‘negative campaigning’ works! What a sad commentary on our society! “Vote for me because the other candidate is a dirty individual!”


This is not new. ‘Negative campaigning’ has been around since the latter 1700’s. Elevating yourself by denigrating others has been a common trait of humans for time immemorial. Many pundits claim this is something new, but truth be told, it is as old as we have been on this earth.


So, what do we do to learn the truth? That is the rub! It takes time and research – yet most of us have little time to give to this exercise. We have families, friends, jobs, etc. and cannot give over spending extra hours to determine every claim.


So, do we simply accept that this or that person is being square? Do we simply vote a party line and let the chips fall where they will? Generally, that is what happens in our elections and the after affects infuriate us!


Fortunately, we do have some new options. When many of us were growing up, there were only three major television stations and talk radio consisted of AM stations which talked about the weather, traffic, and fun local stories. Today we have the Internet, a myriad of talk radio shows, various debates/forums, and candidate websites – not to mention direct email to the various candidates.


So, we’ve gone from one extreme, (limited information) to another, (far too much information)! How can we get a reasonable understanding of what is the truth, what is opinion, and what is that grey area in between?


First, when you get these mailings, trust your perceptions! If the only thing you read is how bad the other fella is, question why this person is not telling you what they can offer? Most of us feel like we don’t really understand the issues, but in truth, we face difficult decisions every day and we know when someone is blowing hot air up our skirt.


Second, question if the person is presenting you with an argument that they are a public servant! That concept has been forgotten in politics. Some people think they deserve the position. Some people simply want the job, not the service. Some people are riding the coattails of another candidate. Ask yourself these simple questions and trust your perceptions!


Finally, are you getting information on what this candidate proposes or is this a proposal that states ‘he is much worse than me, so vote for me’! If a candidate cannot give you something worthwhile about themselves, but only the negatives about their opponent, that should raise a red flag!


Two examples come to mind. On a recent WFMD debate, (October 14th) a somewhat nasty interaction took place. Rather than present the solutions or background that would make this or that candidate a better choice, the comments turned to personal attacks.


For instance, Kathy Afzali continuously denigrated Ryan Trout rather than pointing out the differences in their ideology and how they would handle important issues in Annapolis. And, to add insult to injury, Ms. Afzali noted that she cannot understand why she is painted as such an aggressive and mean-spirited candidate – she noted something along the lines of ‘you’d think she came into to the studio with a gun strapped to her back.’ Consider that comment. Is Ms. Afzali stating that people who carry guns are overly aggressive and people to be concerned about? Bizarre!


We need more Republicans in Annapolis – a one-party rule always makes for terrible legislation. We need Republicans who understand that promoting our ideology is superior to the common tactic of denigrating the opposition in some vain attempt to elevate themselves.


Another instance of this attempt is taking place for the Board of County Commissioners. The slate of Blaine Young, Kirby Delauter, Billy Shreve, and Paul SmithMichael Kurtianyk has many views in common with these people, but he has decided not to run on a slate – is being attacked vehemently. But the attacks are completely vapid. Fear tactics like ‘good old boy’ or the Developer Dream Team were the only arguments. Nothing of actual substance and more importantly, NO alternatives!


Mr. Young and company have proposed some worthwhile propositions – a moratorium on new regulations which hamper business, a review of the current rules and regulations which do nothing for our county but only prevent jobs and new business opportunities within Frederick County, and a thorough review of the myriad agencies in our county government to determine if there is overlap, or if these agencies truly need to exist. These are exactly the kinds of things that should occur in government whether times are good or bad!


The irony is, those in opposition cite the need to use a scalpel rather than an axe to make cuts. This is exactly what these proposals encompass! Stop the increase in regulation and take the time for complete review!


You’d think those who oppose this group would embrace this kind of plan – yet they can only scream into the wind. They claim that this group is composed of business people who are only interested in padding their pockets. What an odd argument. Who better to review the difficulties facing this county and its lack of new business opportunities than those directly involved in business? We need new businesses in Fredrick County and this group is just the ticket to understand how to make that happen. The opposition will keep the status quo and ensure not only more businesses leave, but no new opportunities arise.


Consider what the alternative might be and come to your own conclusions. In short, trust your perceptions!


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