Lowdown, dirty game?

Published 12:01 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

We have devoted lots of space and ink this week to Tuesday’s election and the issues surrounding the races.

If you think reading about the issues is tedious work, you should try capturing, word-for-word, the answers of a politician.

Perhaps you aren’t interested. You should be.

There are important decisions to be made next week, and serious issues ahead of us. In my mind, none is more serious than the looming mental health crisis and how we’ll care for those clients in our community in the future when the state closes all but two of its mental hospitals. The crisis will be a problem for the next probate judge, and the county commission likely will be approached to help fund a community solution. The answers will not be easy.

We’ve made a heap of people mad with us through this process. As late as last night, I was chastised because we printed a story about commissioners’ mileage reimbursements in Friday’s paper.

“You’re going to cost every one of them their jobs,” I was told.

I always come down on the side of truth in these discussions. People have been talking about mileage for weeks now. Putting the actual figures in print so that you can see who got what mileage should clarify the issue, instead of letting all of the incumbents be painted with a broad stroke of a brush. If you missed the story, it’s on our website.

We had some questions that upset some candidates. If you think you might want to be a candidate one day, know that you need really thick skin. One candidate described the criticism and abuse from potential voters as “being emotionally raped.”

Earlier this week, we put a bee in some bonnets by publishing one local Tea Party organization’s endorsements. There are at least three different Tea Party or Common Sense Campaign groups in the county. Some candidates who weren’t endorsed called with concerns, as did members of the other, similar political groups who didn’t want credit for the endorsements.

Whether you are running for office, or reporting on the campaigns, politics is not, as they say, for sissies.

Jimmy Faulkner, the late Baldwin County entrepreneur, economic developer, newspaperman, and former candidate for governor, used to be a regular in our restaurant. He liked my husband’s cooking and my undivided attention.

Of politics he often said, somberly and with a note of disgust, “Politics is a low-down, dirty game.” Then his eyes would twinkle, he’d smile broadly, and add, “If you play it right.”

It can be dirty. Most games can.

To all of those bold enough to seek public office, thanks for your participation in the process. The rest of us owe you the courtesy of going to the polls on Tuesday.