Criticism Might Do You Some Good

Have you ever thought you would really like to have your cake and eat it, too? I would like to apply this expression to a current editorial debate which has been generated in our newspaper lately.

Can the calls to "vote out all incumbents" and "keep those who are serving the public very well in office" both be reconciled somewhat, if we understand the thinking of each individual making the statement?

Let me begin with the charge to "vote them all out." I can see how someone could hold this position if he or she felt that the Hatfields and McCoys (my tags for Democrats and Republicans) had so many family intermarriages (deals) between them that they were secretly partying together, while giving the public the impression they loved to feud over the issues given their different political perspectives.

Maybe some people who make the obviously over-simplified charges to "vote them all out" do not understand the differences between the Hatfields and McCoys, or some believe there is no difference.

Or, we must entertain a fourth, and very sad, possibility that the difference is being hidden from the public by both sides of the feud because both are willing to play "politics as usual" (compromise and don't criticize).

Now, if you correctly say, "Vote all of them out who compromise their beliefs and refuse to point out their opponents' unreal positions," then I would agree with you.

One must admit the charge of "vote out all incumbents" does seem to generate good discussions . . . pro and con.

Now that I've apparently "eaten my cake," let me tell how I would also like to "have it, too." I do not follow city and county politics as closely as I should in order to be a responsible citizen of a representative local government. I am, however, an enthusiastic observer of politics on the national scene and have some very strong conservative convictions.

Like many who want to "eat the cake" and start voting incumbents out, I wish all the local candidates would clearly and publicly state their differences on the issues and remove all doubts from my mind when I vote.

The truth is "at all levels of government, there are always men and women who serve the public so well in their first terms that they deserve to be returned to office."

I refuse to take the radical position that non-incumbents are "always" better for public office than any of the present office holders. From personal observation and from hearsay, I know that we have had some fine multiple-term and career local public servants, Democrats and Republicans. (I apologize to the one-party-only partisans at the local level.)

Some may claim I didn't fully eat my cake, and some may claim I didn't fully have my cake; but no one can claim I didn't fully "present my cake" for others to observe, to evaluate and even to criticize if they disagree. As I've tried to teach my sons, "Don't mind criticism from others; some of it might do you some good."

---Kenneth J. Wolf #07 (07/28/90)

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