Pollen, politicians in full swing

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well, it is here at last. The signs of its arrival are all around us, popping up in tall grass along the roadways, and echoing in the sounds we hear everywhere.

It slipped in on a heat wave burning with intensity despite my deep longing for cool and quiet. We’ve known for months that it was on its way, some looking forward to the change of energy it brings, others, like me, hoping for it to come and go quickly.

Yep, the political season is in full swing. Candidates’ signs bloom right beside soon to blossom goldenrods. The chatter of campaign ads fills the air on television and on the radio, pop-ups on the Internet and ringing of computer-generated phone calls, all trying to sneak messages into our subconscious.

This candidate says how awful his opponent is while his opponent declares the unworthiness of his opposition. One candidate says he is for people, another says he has more experience, while yet another is against everyone currently in office, both political parties and anything to do with government the way it exists today.

I’m waiting for them to start calling each other’s mother bad names because that’s about the only thing left in the-person-running-against-me-is-the-devil-incarnate mudslinging that passes for campaigning in 2010.

Oh, and it’s not just messages about the people running for office. It’s also the issues we should fear, be angry about and curse. It’s those illegal immigrants, those high spending Washington insiders, those conservative radicals, the ones who don’t want gambling, the ones who want gambling… oh yes, all of them are the root of our problems.

Every candidate saddles up on his or her fear issue, and then rides it until I’m exhausted and choking from dust so thick it obscures the possibility of seeing beyond the cloud of confusion they do their best to stir up.

Of course, it is easy to sit at my computer and complain about awful politicians and their awful campaign tactics. Unfortunately there is one big old fly in that ointment. These folks would not be handling things this way, name-calling and fear pushing and generally being negative, if it didn’t work to get them elected.

If voters didn’t respond to the messages they pound us with, they’d find another way to communicate. Therefore, we have some responsibility for this mess called politics.

When we show candidates that trying to scare us or belittling each other doesn’t get the desired result, things will change. When they see that we take time to learn about the issues, really learn not just buy into whatever we are fed, they won’t be able to say stuff that is only maybe half true.

On the day they realize we seek out for ourselves information about a candidate’s qualifications, instead of believing whatever appears in a commercial, the name-calling nastiness will cease.

We only get the kind of campaigning and the kind of elected officials we demand, and that doesn’t mean we parade about with signs saying, “Throw all the bums out,” sit around finding fault with everything in existence or decide only a certain political party gets our vote no matter what candidate it puts on the ballot.

It means we become involved citizens. We think for ourselves. We ask intelligent informed questions and then we listen, reason, and make choices based on more than a 30-second sound bite or a party affiliation.

Will that happen?

I try to see the glass as half full, but I admit the political season puts that to the test. So, on this Tuesday morning, this International Day of Peace, I am doing my best to be peaceful, let politics alone for a while and anticipate the arrival of a season I do enjoy – fall.