Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Candidate

Some weeks back there was a knock at the door. I answered and a pleasant volunteer stood there exhorting me to vote for someone. When asked why she affirmed that the person she represented would help:
  • strengthen families
  • strengthen the city
  • create jobs and improve the environment
My reply was, "Wonderful. These are fantastic things that I want! But how will your candidate accomplish this? You know, even Atilla the Hun could advocate such things."

Her response was a bit of deer-in-the-headlights quickly followed by, "let me get the candidate." It wasn't necessary and I thanked the volunteer nonetheless. My neighbor dropped in a bit later and we were chatting when the candidate showed up a minute after that.

The Candidate was an altogether pleasant person and I could tell that if elected, she'd do everything she could to accomplish those admirable goals she enumerated. But she was a bit vague on how she'd accomplish them. I figured that it would be rude to press her at this point and changed the subject.

Our cul-de-sac is evenly split into two factions as fierce as the slave-state vs free-state conflict of years bygone. You can characterize our conflict in our cul-de-sac as the Forces of Light versus the Forces of Darkness. I explained to her that in the last year or so the business of putting up street lights has come before the city commission and I asked how she'd vote. (I think the lights we have now work fine without the city dunning us a few thousand bucks to put them in.)

Her answer showed her skill as a politician, because she said what I wanted to hear, but didn't actually commit herself to either Light or Darkness.

At this point, I wanted to know who's team this rising star was playing on. I had a suspicion, but I wanted it confirmed. The race is a non-partisan one so one has to ask sneaky questions to ascertain Republican versus Democrat. What's her resume look like? She's worked in child-protection stuff. I said, "Oh, that's how Hillary Clinton got her start." I figured that if she flashed on the name, she'd out herself as flaming lib or raging clinton-hater. She said nothing. Very astute.

She left me with her campaign literature and my neighbor went home too. Scanning the literature I went through the names of endorsers. Ah, the usual suspects appeared, all of whom are more-or-less identified with one party. OK, good to know which team she's on.

I figure she has a bright future in politics. At least she's following to the template of her party. It becomes clear when you look deeper and compare/contrast with the other candidates that this party has put up in the last few election cycles.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan won a landslide election over a fellow who complained of malaise as he blamed the American people for his failings. Listening to NPR at the time, the complaint was that Reagan's politics were vague and sugarcoated and they obscured hard things that must be done. The response was a fellow from Minnesota who promised to raise taxes and another landslide followed. After another Massachusetts liberal lost another election, Mr. Clinton reversed this losing streak by promising middle-class tax cuts and complaining the worst economy in 50 years was caused by 12 years of greed.

I believe Mr. Clinton's party didn't understand why Mr. Reagan won. They thought his success was pure charm & platitudes. And Mr. Clinton's success seemed to vindicate this opinion. Since then I've seen a pattern repeated in campaigns from folks on that side of the aisle.

There are a lot of yard signs for the candiddate. She dispatched another volunteer who handed out her retooled literature today. No policy details, but lots of endorsements. I am grateful for her brother's service to our country in Iraq. Her opponent has caught up somewhat in the lawn sign department.

To be fair, the candidate hasn't made a secret of what she wants to do. If you goto her website, she provides a vision of getting every penny of tax money due our community and funding safety programs (such as more street lighting!) and stricter regulation to protect our children. In fact, we'll create jobs while restoring the environment. I wonder why her volunteer didn't say this at the beginning?

The election is August 2nd. It should be interesting to see how the candidate does.

No comments: