For the past few weeks I've been involved in a couple of Charleston municipal election campaigns. Boy, that's a headache I'd rather not have.
Like politics in general, campaigns are about making choices, so I had to choose who to support among some people I've known and dealt with for years. This one guy I grew up with took it personally when I joined the camp of an up-and-comer new to the community.
Not that I didn't want to support my old friend, but this new person is on the ball. The new candidate brings youth, vitality, and a fresh vision to the game, and that's what won my support. My guy has done a fine job, but it's time for a change.
The downside of the whole experience has been that some of my old friends are ticked off with me. Apparently some people feel that political allegiances should be based on friendship rather than ability.
Then, of course, there are the business relationships.
As our fearful leader in the White House so adequately demonstrates, the business of politics drives government. The November Charleston election will be as much about business as anything else.
With a $10 billion development project on the table in the city's northernmost communities, you can bet the moneyed interested have a keen eye on the next election. Some might dare say the November elections are more about development than quality of life for the city's residents.
Which brings me to the other campaign I've been involved with — that of another friend running against an incumbent who previously ran unopposed.
The scuttlebutt is that the incumbent has served redevelopment in the district a lot more than he's served his constituents. So of course, the politically expedient thing to do will be to attack that perceived weakness.
Now I've known the incumbent a long time as well, so I'm a little torn about going after someone politically who I've been acquainted with for so many years. But as with the other campaign, choices must be made based on the better candidate — not relationships.
What would make all of this a whole lot easier for me would be for public office holders to realize the positions are not their personal possessions. Most of the incumbents up for election this November have been in office three terms or more. The mayor's been there 32 years!
One reason so many public officeholders become attached to their positions is because they too often are unchallenged. In both the races I'm involved with, the incumbents have run unopposed the past two election cycles. They represent districts that are predominantly middle class and well educated.
If we don't want suspected perverts like the U.S. senator accused of committing lewd acts in a public bathroom making our laws, John Q. Public has got to step up. That guy was suspected of inappropriate behavior soon after he went to Washington, and his constituent elected him to office for the next 36 years! What is that about?
The voting public has to take back its government, I say. And the only way to do that is to stop allowing folks to grow moss in public office.