The broad brush of cynicism leaves political discussions painted into a corner.
Such is the case with the shocking indictment of Grovetown Mayor Pro Tem Sonny McDowell.
Let’s say this up front: We are highly skeptical that McDowell knowingly would violate the law as the federal indictment alleges, with a kickback scheme involving a fingerprinting system his private company sold to an Alabama agency.
Of all the men and women currently serving in elected office in our area, it would be hard to find anyone as upstanding as Sonny McDowell. That’s not only our opinion; as word of the indictment spread, that’s what we’ve been hearing repeatedly over the past couple of days not just from fellow officials, but from ordinary citizens speaking on his behalf.
It’s revealing, too, that when asked about how he believes citizens will perceive his indictment, McDowell doesn’t turn to self-pity or self-aggrandizement. Instead, he worries about the episode’s potential for tainting the perception of public officials.
It’s difficult to imagine that public officials, in general, could be held in lower regard. But that’s because even the most honest local public servant has to suffer from the broad-brush cynicism directed nationally at politicians in general. But it’s unfair, and lazy, to tar the commissioner or councilman down the street just because Congress is a mess.
Such overgeneralization also is dangerous. While we’ve often been let down by faith in fallible people, we harm ourselves, perhaps irreparably, as a society when we fail to evaluate each person on his or her own merits.
Sonny McDowell has done nothing to forfeit fair consideration. To the contrary, as a tireless and selfless champion for Grovetown, he very much deserves the benefit of the doubt.
In the end, he’ll have his day in court, and will have ample opportunity to defend himself against charges that, inexplicably, took five years for prosecutors to bring. Like McDowell, we are confident justice will prevail.