Dave Richards for November 13th…………….
--Well, now that the elections are over there’s a period of planning before the winners are sworn in to do their jobs. Everybody is talking like they will work together with everybody, even though a week ago they were saying the world would end in ruin if those people were elected. That’s nice to hear. It would be even nicer if it would happen.
I have expressed my opinions about negative, hate-filled campaigning for office in these pages numerous times. I believe what I’ve said. Unfortunately for me, short-sighted people, people whose only goal is to win an election have proven again that if you sling mud louder and in larger quantities than your opponent you can win an election. It’s hard to argue with people who point to this fact as proof that “negative campaigning works”. Well it probably works to get someone elected.
But aren’t we losing sight of the “Big Picture” here? What’s the reason we have elections in the first place? Isn’t it to select those among us who will govern us for the next term of office? I say it is. The election is only the “first chapter” in the entire story. If you prove yourself unworthy of trust in the beginning, how will you then govern? Who will trust you when you need them to trust you, to follow you? A leader is not a leader if people are not following them.
Perhaps the people who say they promise to work together do mean what they say, but with the way this campaign has played out, I think it will be a lot to ask of people on all sides to ‘bury the hatchet’. They may forgive, but will they forget? I am concerned it may be too much to ask of a person to work together, but working together is vital to progress in any community.
Let me put it another way. In our personal lives we have relationships. Blood relatives, relatives-through-marriage, and friends of all types. It is understandable and quite normal that disagreements will erupt into a heated argument from time to time. But it behooves both parties in the argument to observe a level of conduct which will allow the argument to be prosecuted without going “too far”. This will allow parties to reconcile afterward and move forward. However, if the heat of the argument crosses “the (proverbial) line”, nobody even wants to work together and progress is the eventual victim. It’s not unlike the concept that you wouldn’t use a nuclear weapon to settle a trade conflict. If either side crossed the line and did so, there would be no reconciliation afterward.
Those who have been married know also that even though it is natural for married couples to argue, there is a line you would never cross. Words said in anger cannot be taken back, and trust between you and the other person will be destroyed for the sake of a moment’s satisfaction.
It is this trust I spoke of which is vital to human relationships. Think about it in its simplest form. You shake a person’s hand trusting that they will not hurt you. You compete against someone expecting they will not try to harm you during the contest.
Putting the emotional component of negative campaigning, like grudges, aside for the moment, now that the trust has been damaged by the negative campaigning, how can someone expect to work together with a former opponent without that simple, healthy trust? How, indeed. It will take a person with an uncommon strength of character, resolve, and love of community to do so. I sincerely hope we elected such people last week. For all our sakes.
--That’s what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.