None of the Above
Thursday, October 12, 2006 :::
Frank Miele, a newspaper editor in Kalispell, Montana, has a piece in today's WSJ that could just as easily have been written about the Virginia Senate contest:
The Burns-Tester race is indeed a sorry sight: A campaign run from Washington that has probably offended every decent Montanan with its advertising blitz, its finger-pointing, its name-calling -- and, more significantly, with its cynicism, anger and disrespect. This, after all, is Big Sky Country, where there used to be room enough for ideas all across the political spectrum and where a man used to be respected as much for what he didn't say as what he did. But Big Sky Country has been made smaller -- and meaner -- by this campaign.
Miele mentions George Allen in passing (Burns' "...skill in Washington has helped him survive gaffes, blunders and scandal that would have rocked a senator from a big-media state (e.g., George Allen"). And I think there's a lot of truth to the idea that the races were all watching, not just George and Jim, but others as well, are among the nastiest and most shallow in some time. But it's what comes at the end of the op-ed that's the most interesting to me:
If these two can't keep focused on what they want to accomplish for our nation, instead of what's wrong with each other -- if they can't put partisan politics aside -- then what hope is there for real change, and real progress? Ms. Young's letter expressed a typical sentiment -- the floating sense of discontent with national politics -- but proposed a novel solution: "None of the above."
Sen. Burns and Mr. Tester, take note. Democratic National Committee, take note. Republican National Committee, take note. Many voters have had enough -- at least in Montana.
Ironically, I've used this very theme for a Sorensen exercise this weekend. We were asked to write 30 second television scripts in which we place ourselves in the role of a candidate running for office. I took a different tack...and wrote one urging people to vote for "none of the above."
So am I in touch with the political mood, or just deeply cynical? Certainly the latter (but I can still laugh about it). But the former? No, that strain has always existed in American politics. It may just be that the sentiment is gelling a bit. At least in Kalispell.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 10/12/2006