Making Sausage

So, let’s go down to the slaughterhouse and pick up all those random pieces of pigs’ ears, entrails, and scraps off the floor and put them in a TV studio, arranged artfully for the most dramatic effect, and show them to the voters. When I watch the morning news show campaign ads, that is what it feels like.

I don’t like politics. I mean, I am interested in politics and I think it is important to be an active and informed voter, but I don’t like it one bit. A friend asked me yesterday what I thought about the Congressional Sixth District Republican run-off race–my honest opinion, it would not be shared with anyone, and he just wanted to know who I would vote for and why. I have an opinion, which has not been swayed by any recent ads or shocking revelations by any members of the news media, so I told him what I thought. I have known one of the candidates for many years and have seen him operate effectively at the state level, working to effectuate change for the good of our state and communities. I told my friend what I knew about the candidate and did not once mention any of the recent controversies about campaign ads, because I did not think it was significant. I have observed this candidate’s character over a long period of time and feel that is a better test than a 3-minute campaign ad.

Politics is a game, and the objective of any game is to win. Gamesmanship, calculating carefully which pieces of scrap flesh to pick up off the slaughterhouse floor to show on TV, is paramount. If you are too squeamish, you might lose. So, what is the best strategy if (and, I say “if”) you are a person of character and integrity in a close race? I am not going to start putting names and faces on the pieces of offal, for fear that I will overlook one particularly flagrant abuse in the sausage-making process and be forever labeled as one thing or another. However, I have pondered what constitutes “going too far” in the sausage business. If you throw an eyeball in the sausage grinder, is that going too far? If you call out a candidate’s newborn son and question the candidate’s parenting abilities, is that going too far? Exactly what is going too far these days? I am sure all candidates, at one time or another, have been called on the carpet for going too far.

Voters don’t really want access to the sausage room. We know the process is ugly, but we don’t want to see what goes on behind closed doors. The best we can do is overlook the ugliness, make an objective determination about who we think is the best candidate, based on his or her record over a period of time and what we know about him or her, vote, and look forward to that Sunday morning sausage biscuit.

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