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Say What?

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The work of hope

Years ago the Denver Post had a saying as part of its masthead on the editorial page. "He who lives in hope lives in despair." That quotation has always haunted me because of what it infers. I took it to mean that hope was a form of wishing; doing nothing with the expectation that everything is going to turn out okay if you do nothing or that you are powerless so don’t do anything.

To the dear reader that quotation may mean something else all together. But since the term has been used so liberally during the current election cycle it seems appropriate to think about it some more.

As a political junkie I enjoy, to a point, politicians and their campaigns. It fascinates me no end to read or hear what some guys or gals will say to persuade you to vote for them. The truth always gets stretched a bit but there is nothing unusual about that. Most people say things that are somewhat correct but may be factually incorrect. The sad part about any campaign is the promise that is almost certainly undeliverable.

In the current season one guy promises to do away with the infamous ‘earmark.’ There is no way one Congressman could do that. He might refrain from the practice but that wouldn’t do away with the practice. Which reminds me that both Presidential candidates are promising changes that are controlled by the Congress. None has recognized that all the President can do is lead, push or cajole.

Which brings we to the point I originally planned to make. The term liberal or conservative is being used generally by the commentators to describe any candidate. So what is a liberal and what is a conservative? For openers, it depends on your viewpoint. Each characteristic is best defined by what you expect. Furthermore, it depends on whether you are talking about money, social order or what you expect from society.

In my mind a liberal is one who believes government is the solution to most problems. A more level playing field, if you will, especially using someone else’s money. Some I know are elitist in that they feel better informed and smarter than the average Joe. Most are pretty smart and to some extent have had the benefit of more time in the classroom. They have some good ideas and some that are not so good.

Likewise the conservative has some good ideas and some that are not so good. A true conservative believes in less government—sometimes to the extreme, believing they are more virtuous than others and if everyone else felt the same society would be better off. Some want to mix their political agenda with their religious belief. Abortion has become the hallmark of some conservatives. Most conservatives are not in for social experimentation. Many are strong for support of the Second Amendment.

Whatever you believe, the election always boils down to either A or B. Years ago I would, on occasion, be assailed by some disgruntled voter for not fielding better candidates. Actually, there is not a perfect candidate any more than there are perfect voters. Good or bad, each person who runs for office deserves some credit, emphasis on the some. There are candidates who are simply driven by their own ego; the welfare of the voters is a secondary consideration. There are some who feel they simply know better that the average guy. There are some who have been involved in the system so long they owe it to their constituents to continue on. And there are some who need the job because otherwise they would be unemployed.

Whoever you vote for should be someone who thinks like you do (get as close as you can). You should be able to defend most of your candidate’s positions, proving that he or she thinks like you do or vice versa. You should believe they will do the ‘right thing,’ whatever that is.

Which brings us down to the nitty gritty. In any election it boils down to either A or B. Get over that either or both may be lacking a virtue you consider important. Recognize that neither—or any—candidate is perfect or even close to whatever prefect may be. Which candidate best expresses how you feel? Can you defend his positions?. And lastly you have to look at the record each offers. Experience, good or bad, speaks louder than words. Your life experience should give you a clue.

And once more. Get over that the candidate you would like to vote for isn’t running. If all else fails, vote for the one who has the least number of flaws (in your judgement.) Recall that some wag once said "to never underestimate the ignorance of the American voter." Let’s not make his words ring true. Know what you are doing. Be sure to vote, it is your country.

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Paul Rechnitzer Paul Rechnitzer Transplanted 30 years ago, Paul is a retiree from the oil business who knows no other place he would rather live and breathe local history.

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