December 2006
Sage Grass & Cedars

Finally Over or Just Beginning?

by Darrell Thompson

I have been told before that I have jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. We all have probably heard or been told that before. Of course, there is no frying pan and no fire. That is just a phrase that indicates that we have escaped one situation only to find ourselves in a much worse situation. Sadly the process can be repeated over and over.

I have these kinds of thoughts running through my head after each election is finally over. I use the words "finally over" because by the time the elections come and go, the average voter has already endured more than they thought they could possibly stand.

Then as we breathe a sigh of relief, a haunting thought comes to mind. Is it finally over or just beginning? After all, those guys and gals who ran all those smearing, mud-slinging ads that we got so tired of seeing and hearing are the people that we will look to for leadership and guidance for the next four years. Not a comforting thought, is it?

While the mud slinging and disparaging remarks are a big turnoff, it seems to me that the real turnoff is that many of these ads intended to convince us to vote for them are actually an insult to our intelligence. It is like me and our dog, Sam. I can say all kinds of insulting and threatening things to him but if I say them in a pleasant and loving voice, he eats it up and begs for more.

It is easy for us voters to get caught up in the hype and end up acting just like Sam. These are a few of the things that I thought were insulting or amusing in this year’s elections.

Mr. or Mrs. Politician wants to be our voice in Montgomery. He or she has someone else doing the speaking for them in the commercials. I wonder if they don’t feel comfortable being their own voice while running for office, how comfortable can I be about them being my voice in Montgomery?

The spokesperson for one candidate sounded like no less than the resurrected Scarlett O’Hara right out of Gone With the Wind. The way she pronounced "sin’-uh-tuh" left me foaming at the mouth to hear her rendition of "guv’-uh-nuh."

Not really, I would have rather said, "Frankly, Scarlett, this is just not working for me."

Another tactic that you will see almost every election year is labeling the other candidate. Probably the most dreaded label that a Southern politician can be hit with is the "L" word – LIBERAL. This seems to be particular effective if a candidate can somehow be linked to John Kerry, Hillary Clinton or other liberal politicians north of the Mason-Dixon line. I wonder if politicians up there are using Bob Riley, Jeff Sessions or Richard Shelby to smear their opponents.

One candidate criticized his opponent for pledging to vote with those politicians down south. Those South Alabama politicians evidently must be relatives of John and Hillary. While criticizing his opponent for a pledge to vote with those southerners, he repeatedly pointed out how he was bringing home the bacon for his district. We all know that you don’t bring home the pork without voting with others for them to get their pork as well.

I heard one man running for state senate pledging to bring back from Montgomery some of the tax money sent there from his district. This sounds like a great idea. Why hasn’t someone thought of doing this before? I can see this fellow popping into the state treasurer’s office with a brown paper bag and asking for it to be filled up to be taken back home.

Another ad I saw in the local newspaper said, "Had enough? Vote……" It was intended to encourage voters to vote a straight ticket for all the candidates of one party. It included all the local candidates of that party, some of which were incumbents that I had "had enough" of. Getting all the best-qualified people to run for office in the same party would be the equivalent of political evolution. You’d start with a mass of matter from an unknown source and have a huge explosion with all the pieces falling into place in perfect order and harmony. Don’t hold your breath.

Sam, being a dog, is supposed to be one of those creatures deemed to be man’s best friend. But considering how election tactics make me feel, we may have more in common than I once thought. Who knows – Sam may even decide to run for office himself! And if he did, I wouldn’t count him out. After all, he is a yellow dog.

Darrell Thompson is the Moulton store manager of Lawrence County Exchange.