To all the candidates, many thanks

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webmaster | 06/06/12
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Whether they won or lost, I want to congratulate all those who ran in local elections, and thank them for their service to democracy.

People who run for public office have to be a little crazy and very brave. Once they decide to file, their lives cease to be their own. Their weeks and months become one long string of meetings, of going from door to door, of giving speeches, of raising money, of being insulted, harangued and accused of venality.

Families suffer from hearing their candidate fathers or mothers called names and seeing those unflattering names printed in the paper or broadcast on television when interviews with their opponents are published.

Almost all political rhetoric has become what linguists and logicians call “special pleading” — specious arguments couched in half-truths, character assassinations, and outright lies. The candidate who tries to stay within the truth often is shouted down, because lies are only effective if the liars yell loud enough.

The candidates who survive all that then have to contend with their contemporaries on whatever elective body they serve, and with a public that has almost no idea of how government works.

I remember one night a few years ago when the Madera City Council met at the Frank Bergon Center to accommodate an expected large crowd. The attendance at that council meeting truly was larger than usual. In attendance were many knuckleheads who went there to scream at the council because the council was having to raise utility rates due to increases in costs. Those council members were called every vile name. And yet, they took it gamely and politely, gave everyone a chance to speak and then took the vote to increase the rates.

Thankless work — but democracy could not function without it.

 

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