"When we got into office, the thing that surprised me the most was that things were as bad as we'd been saying they were."
-- John F. Kennedy
According to my ancient psychology textbook, the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic is that a neurotic builds castles in the air, but a psychotic lives in them. If that definition is still true, and you don't mind being called a neurotic -- which my also-ancient professor would say applies to us all -- then it's perfectly, politically correct to daydream, even if the subject is politics.
So, now that the recent Georgia Primary is over, please indulge (or join) me while I build some politically correct castles, spin a few honest cobwebs and clear the petrified silt from my campaign-tired brain. Should I succeed in completing this idyllic abode, I'd decorate, legislate and populate it in the following way:
All political candidates, regardless of race, party, office or locale, shall speak only the truth when defining themselves or their opponents in any campaign ad or speech.
No audible or visible campaigning shall begin more than 10 days before a targeted election. Brochures may be stamped but not mailed; radio and television ads written but not aired; signs printed but not graffitied into the landscape; and phone lists compiled but not dialed before that magic day.
Before running for office, each candidate shall pay a qualifying fee equal to one year's salary in the office being sought, and shall not spend more money during the campaign than one half the anticipated salary of the term of office being sought.
All candidates will speak only truthfully about why they are running for political office. Acceptable reasons should include: sincere desire for public service; substantial experience or qualification for the job; some measure of success in life already; and no skeleton in the closet larger than an average-sized cockroach. Unacceptable reasons include: puppet with no control over his or her own strings; vindictive, hidden or get-even agenda; unsettled scores with an employer, business partner, civil or federal court; and anything larger than a cockroach-sized skeleton in the closet.
All proven, conscientious incumbents who wish to stay in office will receive their just due and, if appropriate and allowed by law, win reappointment.
All unproven leaders, favored or foe, incumbent or nominee, will be removed from office, barred from office or brought to justice by legal, constitutional means, rather than protected or excused by those whose understanding of justice is no larger than a cockroach-sized skeleton in or out of the closet.
Finally, only knowledgeable voters who have considered what each candidate can do for the community, state or country as a whole, rather than what will benefit only them, shall be allowed to vote.
Meanwhile, back on solid if not perfect ground, I have some thoughts on the election just past.
To the winners, kudos first, but great expectations foremost. From the commission to the Legislature and the courts, we're glad you're there, you have our support, but we'll be watching.
To the losers we express no glee, and, for the most part, great thanks either for your past service or your willingness to make a difficult, first effort to serve. We urge you to step up to the plate again. There's a place for you, either in the office you sought at another time, or sooner in another avenue of public service.
You are greatly admired, especially by those of us who don't have the stamina or the courage to risk such a fishbowl experience, or a loss.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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