It’s been a long election season. Since before the closing of the filing period this election has been ugly. Lies, deception, character assassination and the like have been the rule rather than the exception. I was thinking I was tired of election season. Then I thought again. It’s not the election that has tired me. I am tired of the people we get as candidates.
I actually enjoy the intrigue and strategy of a campaign season...when it’s handled by professionals. No, I don’t mean professional politicians and their advisors, but people who know and understand professional presentation and the issues that matter.
Talking with candidates who know and understand the jobs they seek and the responsibilities that go along with them is a joy. That is actually encouraging.
Those who aren’t as professional in approach are, conversely, a drag on the process. And therein lies the problem. There are far more of the latter, it seems, than the former.
When candidates cite their experience as marching activists believing those skills translate into governing skills, they are woefully mistaken. When a candidate believes telling you how bad the character of an opponent is as opposed to what his own strengths are, he is also misguided in approach. Both show an incompetence that should be unacceptable to the electorate.
While elected positions by no means require professional politicians, having professionally minded people occupying those positions is extremely important. Think about it. Just what skills are required in order to be a successful elected official?
Let’s start with communication. It is essential that the official be able to discuss, with knowledge and understanding, the issues in play for the office held. It matters not if the discussion is with like minded or oppositional people, the discussion must be about the issue at hand. The official must be able to take in and assimilate information regarding the issue and make a decision based upon his obligation to the electorate.
I would submit that an activist that has taken the demonstration or protest route is predisposed to being cemented in an ideology that will not allow for learning or even listening to new information. Likewise, an official who spent his time trashing those with whom cooperation may be needed on an issue important to the community has not established the relationships necessary for productive discussion and, in fact, has hampered his own ability to develop those relationships and be productive in his job.
This personally focused, short sightedness by both of these of candidates ignores the big picture responsibilities the candidates seek to undertake. When this is combined with like minded campaign advisors who are in the “winning is the only thing” mindset, the problem is only compounded. Campaigns stray from issues and the abilities of the candidates to address them into scorched earth campaigns about personalities and lifestyles that are irrelevant if the candidate possesses a true public service intent.
As I consider how the electorate should handle this, I come to this conclusion. If a candidate is not professionally minded enough, if true public service is not his goal, then no matter the party or political philosophy, he is incapable of successfully performing the job he seeks. That disqualifies the candidate from earning my vote.
While there may be times that party affiliation is important, such as holding a majority or growing it in the United States Senate, more often than not it’s us hiring the right professionally and service minded person who is capable of navigating the waters of various levels of government, the people and interests involved and then making solid decisions for our communities that will best serve us.
Until we demonstrate and demand that at the ballot box, I fear we will continue to see what we have already seen too much of in this election season.
In the end it is up to us.