Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Enjoying the best and brightest while we still think of them that way

 My Door County Advocate column for this week:

Once upon a time, in between when I left the dying field of radio news and when I joined the robust world of newspapers (hey, this was 18 years ago), I invested six months of my life in a quixotic effort to become a member of the Wisconsin Assembly. It was an exciting and eye-opening adventure.

Early on, while sitting in a barber chair, I was presented with an interesting question.

“Why,” asked the barber, “do you want to alienate half your friends?”

I think I muttered something about civility and real friends and honest conversations, and I must say my experience was not what the barber promised. I really only met a handful of partisans so rabid that they couldn’t get past the letter that was pasted after my name.

As I said, hey, this was 18 years ago.

Chatting with a friend the other day, we were struck by the field of a half-dozen candidates who are running for the seat being vacated by state Rep. Garey Bies after next fall. Each of them is a solid, quality individual who would be a great choice to represent this corner of Wisconsin in the Assembly.

And before we get too much farther into the November election season, it would do us well to remember that, so I will write it a second time for emphasis.

Each of them is a solid, quality individual who would be a great choice to represent this corner of Wisconsin in the Assembly. I happen to know at least one more solid, quality individual who is thinking of joining the group, and I suspect there will be others before the nomination papers start circulating later this spring.

Why do I emphasize the quality of these individuals? Because we all know that between now and November, we will be learning unpleasant things about them.

We will hear about how they hate women. We’ll learn that they want to deny people rights and privileges that the rest of us take for granted. We’ll discover that they were happier with the failed policies of the past – you choose which of those policies failed – and they’re running for office because they want to turn back the clock to a more dastardly time, a time when, well, you remember how dastardly those times were.

Perhaps by August, when the primaries occur, and most certainly by Nov. 4, we will be so familiar with how evil these half-dozen rapscallions are that we will be tired of hearing about it. We will roll our eyes and chastise ourselves that we ever could have believed that these were solid, quality individuals we would be proud to have as our representative in the Assembly.

That’s what they’re in for. That’s what you and I are in for. Partisan politics has become a toxic exercise where the most sincere and selfless humanitarian would be tarred and besmirched. Can you imagine the 30-second spots about Mother Theresa’s positions on war and abortion?

Therefore, I applaud the men (no women so far) who have stepped forward to place their names into contention for the job. It takes courage to take a stand in these times when so many people have trouble getting past that “R” or that “D.” It’s terrific that the job can still attract some of our best and brightest. Let’s hold that thought as long as we can before the mud flies.

No comments: