Campaigns And Hurricanes

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

I’m convinced that campaigns in this era reach a point where they become counter-productive.  Those of us here in Georgia have been spared the worst of it, as we mercifully are not a swing state.  I have the upmost pity for the people of Ohio and what they must be enduring every time their TV goes to a commercial break, their phone rings, they go to the mailbox, or there is a knock at the door.  Most, I’m sure, just want it to be over so they can get some sense of a normal life back.

Four year old Abigael Evans of Ft. Collins Colorado, another swing state, is now the poster child for all who suffer campaign fatigue.  There is now a viral internet video of Abigael crying and when asked by her mother why, she tearfully protests that she’s tired of “Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney”.  NPR, whom the mother says the two were listening to when the tears began to flow, apologized.  Many of us feel her pain.

It is interesting to watch the political class as election day nears.  Each is building to a crescendo as if there is total finality at 7pm on November 6th.  All will get up on November 7th (presuming we have clear winners in Tuesday’s contests) and begin the process for us to go through this again in 2014 and 2016.  Campaigns are now, unfortunately, a permanent way of life.  Abigael will get to go back to the normal life of a four year old unimpeded by bad political ads for a while, but the political class will engage in battles anew while barely pausing for a breath.

Perhaps no better illustration of this point came with an unexpected backdrop this week.  Hurricane Sandy became the mother of all nor’easters and obliterated the New Jersey coast, flooded Manhatten, and caused other assorted destruction throughout the Northeastern United States.  At least 74 lives were lost.  Property damage estimates are in the $50 Billion range.  It is a significant, life changing tragedy for the most populated area of our country.

We as Southerners are familiar with such storms, but not desensitized to them.  The big ones – Katrina, Hugo, Andrew, and those before them – remain in our memories for generations. In the immediate aftermath, they are events that transcend politics.  911 is a non-partisan service.

And so, in fitting with protocol and common decency after such an event, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie – a staunch Republican and one of Mitt Romney’s best surrogates – toured the damage in his state with President Obama on Wednesday.  That, frankly, should be unremarkable.  Victims of tragedies need to know that their leaders can set aside political differences and work together to fix things.  Frankly, it shouldn’t take a tragedy for that, but it should be expected in the event there is one.

And most people do expect these things.  Most normal people anyway.  But political operatives and pundits are not generally considered normal people.

As such, much discussion has been centered around what Christie’s embrace of the President less than one week from an election means.  The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis is nearly apoplectic claiming Christie is torpedoing Romney’s chances so he can run himself in 2016.  Others on the left have rebutted that Christie is merely embracing a Democratic President so he can have a better chance at being re-elected next year.  Suddenly, the act of coordinating efforts of state and federal relief workers is something that is only done because it is blindly political and self-serving.   At least, that’s how you view it if you spend too much time around other politicos and not enough time in the real world.

People in the real world understand that those that lost everything need to know help is on the way.  They need to be told that things will be alright.  They need to know that tomorrow will be better, and the next day even more so.  Leaders who take care of that first will find that the politics will take care of themselves.

If more of our elected officials would approach their jobs every day with that attitude, we would have more of our problems solved within our government.  We would likely have more debate and campaigns based on policy and less on nonsense contrived via focus groups.  And maybe, just maybe, there would be fewer of us who can relate to Abigael being tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney.


  1. Harry says:

    They don’t have to worry about a knock at the door if they’ve already voted. Some of the procrastinators need and appreciate a gentle nudge.

  2. Patrick T. Malone says:

    There are some elected officials who approach their jobs that way. They are true public servants. Unfortunately they remain badly outnumbered by the politicians.

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