Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Shake their hands

    The election season brought vigorous contested campaigns to three of five cities in Blaine County last week. Whether candidates won or lost, they all deserve the thanks of voters for participating, debating and giving voters a choice.
    If the candidates didn’t know everyone in their town when they started, they did when the election was over, and for this experience, they and their communities will never be the same.
    They spent days on the phone, walked neighborhoods and knocked on doors. They posted signs, passed out pamphlets, advertised, shook hands, held meet-and-greet meetings, gave speeches to community groups and participated in forums. They answered endless streams of questions about themselves and what they might do if elected.
    Unlike running for a national seat, there’s no international jet travel, guaranteed lifetime pensions or photo ops with famous people at the end of the campaign rainbow. Local officials labor obscurely in local vineyards, even in the age of the Internet. They’re generally not lured by higher office, content as they are with the simple act of looking after their neighbors and their communities. They labor on behalf of the people they see every day on the street, in local schools, stores and cafes. They listen to people, make the budget balance and try to do some good.
    Without people who are willing to put themselves out there for public examination and approval—or not—American democracy wouldn’t work. Our states, counties and cities would be ruled by a handful of the most powerful, best connected and most wealthy who would make decisions behind closed doors.
    So, voters. The next time you meet one of the candidates, if you voted for them or not, give ’em a handshake and a word of thanks. Our communities would be the worse without them and their efforts.

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