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February 6, 2014

Campaigns, Down & Dirty?

Harry M. Covert

The fact is well known, all politics is local. The good things of public service should rise, bottom to top, and not the reverse. It's not good when outside and national consultants like to infringe. They do and the landscape changes.


Tactics used by so-called campaign experts on how to win elections are not always good and proper. Political advisers are a special breed. They have nothing to lose while the candidate always bears the brunt of nasty work and any untoward comments and quotes.


Of course, reporters of all sorts love them, including "moi."


Oh, yes, the candidate has to raise the money and the chief tactician gets the money, win or lose.


Certainly, campaigns for city and county offices are heavily partisan. It's only natural, just like sporting events filled with friends and neighbors on opposite teams. Everybody wants to win, usually no matter what it takes.


There are certain rules of the game to follow, quietly out of public view to shield the public from truth and/or rumored private events.


Citizens should have the benefit of good leaders. When local business people, small and large professionals, decide to offer their time to their community, they shouldn't be treated as if they're northeastern crime bosses or leftovers from New York's Tammany Hall or Chicago's Daley machine.


In these days and times, politics have become nasty, mean and dirty. Certainly no one is perfect. Since colonial times personages have always had vitriolic opponents of the highest order. Many opponents don't hesitate to stretch a few facts for the reason of getting their way, getting even or to cover their own tracks of failures.


The next year here in Frederick will be noisy and blabby. The political apparatus will gain steam. Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, liberals, libertarians, moralists, immoralists, non-believers of all colors, ad nauseum, will be bombarding the Frederick communities, each with their own prejudices, distortions and good and bad reasoning.


But, will the campaign require prevarications over and above common sense, courtesy and dignity to disparage those men and women who put themselves in the public scrutiny as candidates. I like to think not.


Everybody wants to be on a winning team, if only shooting marbles, pitching pennies or counting nickels and noses at Sunday Schools and churches attendance.


I like those public servants in the business of service every day, who know the facts and figures and the tiny details of government. I like the ones who know how to keep taxes low, know how to keep schools educating, providing public services of all sorts and successfully planning the growth and future needs.


Don’t feel mislead here. There is no naiveté. Politics on every level is not a powder-puff game. Frankly, vote-getting can be physically threatening and similar to an old-time heavyweight championship boxing match, if you remember Cassius Clay and Sonny Liston.


Every citizen has something to offer their community. The elected bodies don’t have to be labeled as “do nothings,” but should be do “something’s.” Each elected’s desk should have a plate that says “Do it now.”


Ambitious community leaders, from the civic clubs, churches, schools, scouts must be welcomed and encouraged.


The idea of building up candidates and commissioners and constitutional officers and then making every effort to strip them down is not right, even if this has been the habit.


I like the true story of a former baseball umpire who decided public service would be fun. He went knocking on doors, passing out literature, smiling and shaking hands.


One woman answered the door, without hesitation said, “Get off my porch. I know who you are. I ain’t voting for you.”


A bit perplexed, the office seeker swallowed and blurted, “What did I ever do to you?”


The mother railed, “You called my son out at home plate.”


This is the hard-work of campaigns. Consultants, even the wannabes, won’t participate in such activities.


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