Oh, don’t go wagging your finger in my face! I know that John Kennedy ran as a Democrat. I’m not a complete moron. But I have a question for you. How could a Democrat use those memorable words:
“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
In 2012, does that phrase no longer have any real resonance? Nowadays, that sounds suspiciously like a Republican strategy, not a Democratic one. In the age of entitlements and benefits, it sounds almost mean to expect people to invest in the greater good, to actually do more than throw money, be it taxpayer or charity dollars, at every problem.
The political rhetoric on all sides of the aisle has become bitter and divisive. The spin has spun out of control and truth is its first victim. Night after night, our eyes and ears are assaulted by the carefully crafted propaganda meant to make specific candidates look like they walk on water and their opponents look like Lucifer with his pants on fire.
Sometimes, as I watch a political commentator, I long to ask, “If you were talking about anything other than politics, would you consider your comments to be lies?” If these people were playing golf, I’d suspect they were cheating with their scores. I’d have to ask, “Are those regulation balls you’re using?”
Many times we have heard, “All’s fair in love and war,” but is it? Do we have the right to circumvent public decency and moral character to get the advantage? Have we grown so accustomed to people lying, cheating, and stealing that we lie down and roll over when we see it coming?
Do we really want the meanest, snottiest, most belligerent candidates to win by default? Do we convince ourselves that those whose behavior borders on obnoxious are more worthy of the public office because they proved they’re willing to get down and get dirty? Survival of the fittest is not the same thing as rising above. There’s the issue of character, and character is not borne of bitterness and blunt force trauma. No man or woman of character has to bludgeon an opponent to death, figuratively or literally, in order to appear the better choice. The real secret of being a good leader is to block the negative attacks with appropriate responses and offer more. Be smarter, stronger, sweeter. Make me feel like I’m part of the solution and that my efforts matter in making life better for all, not some. Not just those that have. And not just those that don’t have. The middle class is all about stability. We are the backbone of the nation. Without us, the economy stagnates. The poor run out of entitlements and the rich flee to Monaco, where their dollars go farther.
What do I want in a candidate? I want someone who won’t play loose and easy with the facts. I want someone who won’t demonize the opposition — that is surely the mark of a weak man or woman. I want to know why the candidate believes as he or she does. Show me the reasons why he or she is a better choice. Don’t tell me that only those who are morally depraved agree with your opponent. By labeling me that way, you are disrespecting my right to determine my own beliefs. Who died and made you God anyway?
When truth is on your side, use it for the greater good. Point out why it makes more sense. Don’t look down your nose and “tsk, tsk”. For one thing, if I haven’t made up my mind yet, you’re going to leave me feeling like I’m an idiot because I don’t see things as you do. It’s the psychological tool of a bully and I don’t like bullies. Bullies make me mad. Sometimes the bully wins by default, not because he or she is the best person for the job, but because things got so ugly, so nasty, that the good people got scared off.
If you want me to respect you, keep your hands clean and on the pulse of the public. Understand that we may not really see your point of view because it hasn’t been clarified for us in your ads, your speeches, your campaign fliers. Work with me, not against me. Don’t alienate me with an attitude of superiority.
Above all, don’t toss me in the fire pit. Don’t assume you know what I think and feel. Don’t look at me as a vote, look at me as a voter. You want the job? Convince me you have what it takes to get it done. That’s what leaders do. They lead.
If we want better government, we need to step up to the plate. We need to stop looking at our candidates as people worthy of our vote simply because they’re popular and good at sound bites. Ridiculing one’s opponent does make for great late night humor, but leading the country isn’t a job for a stand-up comic. A good punchline isn’t as important as a good idea. Getting me to snicker at the foibles of some doofus doesn’t make me feel safe or proud. When I can no longer see every candidate as a human being, I am diminished by the seduction of the campaign rhetoric. I am buying into the razzle dazzle of marketers, not the worthiness of the candidates they promote.
For most political campaigns, dirty tricks, ugly smears, and a sense of self-importance trump character and real decency. If we want to restore America as a country to be respected and admired, we have to cut loose the slackers and the stinkers. We have to do more than simply accept what’s offered — we have to start digging through the muck and the mud for what’s really there. We need leaders of substance, integrity, and honesty. That means we need voters of substance, integrity, and honesty.
Use your conscience when you vote. Don’t vote for the lesser of two evils — vote for the better candidate. The only way you can know that is to ignore the political rhetoric and focus on what is important. Which candidate has given you a truer picture of his or her agenda? Which candidate has tried to deceive you with spin and magic fairy dust? If your candidate has spent more time wooing and schmoozing with “the popular kids” instead of telling you what he or she really believes, you’ve gotten the circus treatment. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” Do you want to live in the real world or in the Land of Oz, Dorothy?
Ask yourself the tough questions. If you were going to buy a house, would you purchase it because it’s pretty or because it is well-built? If you were going to buy a car, would you purchase it because that’s a really keen color or because that car is a sensible choice that will work for you now and into the future? If you were going to pick a spouse, would you let looks decide your choice, even if you know the guy is a real rat or the gal is a complete disaster?
Voting is all about picking your future course, even when you can’t see past today. What looks good at the moment has to also function down the road. When you take your hard-earned cash in hand, do you just want to splurge and have some fun or do you realize the need to put some aside, in that rainy day fund, to invest in a better tomorrow? Your political candidates are an investment in your future, in our future.
If you need any more convincing, consider this. Who you decide to vote for affects not only you, but also the rest of us. When you take the easy way out and go with the easy choice, when you don’t stop and question what the candidates really stand for, you are buying into the spin doctors and their happy horse manure. They want you to accept the fertilizer they are selling you, so they pretend this is all about growing bigger blossoms. But remember that as you step into any barn, in any horse race, you’re going to want to wear your boots and mind where you step.
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Let Slip the Dogs of War: A Bard’s Bed & Breakfast Mystery #1
On the tranquil shores of Lake Champlain sits the Bard’s Bed & Breakfast — not your typical vacation spot. Run by a retired spy and Shakespearean scholar, “Uncle Edward”, and a former bookstore owner, “Beatrice”, whose spy husband, “Benedick”, is forced out of the CIA, their guests are often unruly, secretive, and occasionally downright dangerous. When a Syrian rebel leader’s daughters are sent for safe-keeping, it’s a spy free-for-all Shakespeare would have envied, full of duplicitous deceivers, treacherous traitors, and star-crossed lovers. A dead young woman sporting tattoos is left naked in the Ephesus Suite, leaving Bea and Ben to smuggle the body out of the house without getting caught. A wily French spy, Philippe Grapon, may be working for the French DGSE, the Syrians, the Iranians, the Russians, or any and all of the above. All Bea knows for sure is that Philippe is bad news. Fed up with out-of-control spy operations, Bea has no patience with the calamity that rolls through the peaceful country side like an upside down maelstrom of catastrophic proportions. A long-hidden family secret turns out to be the key to a deadly mystery, but along the way to solving it, Bea finds herself chasing after a stolen corpse, pursued through the forest by a motley gang of spies, and even carjacked by a man who clearly should not be trusted. Even the Bard’s cats, Titania and Oberon, and dogs, Puck and Mr. Darcy, are troublemakers who insure there is never a dull moment in Arden Woods.