So I was scrolling through the social media the other day and I came across an ad from some group or other warning me to avoid voting for Herm Suplizio because he was once seen with Socialist Ed Rendell.
I didn’t know Socialist was a title now. Do you have to get an advanced degree for this or is it more of an honorific?
Before I get into my main point, let me remind you all that “socialism” is a scare word designed to bypass our human brains and freak out our animal brains. It means, according to Google, “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” Being clear, almost no American politicians say that the government should do all that. If anything, they’re democratic socialists, and are mostly concerned about healthcare and wages.
You can disagree that sick people deserve healthcare and that people should be able to work one job and have enough money to raise a family, but you can’t pretend that Bernie Sanders went around saying to Ford, in his oddly wobbly way of talking, “My fellow Americans, I must, once again, ask you to let the government take over this factory.”
Republicans practice a form of corporate socialism when they bail out companies whenever they get into trouble instead of allowing capitalism to do its thing and let the “too big to fail” to fail. Look at how many mega-companies took money from those small business loans.
But I digress.
My concern isn’t voting or not voting for Herm Suplizio. I don’t care. The primaries are coming up and the Republican voters will decide that. And whoever wins that will likely run unopposed or against a candidate who stands absolutely no chance of winning.
My concern is that every politician – local or state – is starting to buy into this brutal name-calling match that works (unfortunately) on the national level but really has no place in serious politics.
What if, and hear me out, they played nice?
When I lived in Lancaster, there was a state election between a long-serving incumbent and a decently-positioned-to-do-okay challenger. The challenger vowed never to run a negative ad and to focus on his issues and positives about himself. The incumbent – and I am not making this up – said, “The people don’t care about that.” He basically said that voters are too stupid to understand issues and policies.
Every negative ad, every mud-slinging comment, every mailer that somehow ties people to pedophiles without any cited sources, says that we, the voters, are too stupid to think for ourselves. We should be insulted.
So I beg all candidates who may or may not read my column, take the advice of The Doctor and be kind. It’s not that hard. I assume that you all believe you’d be the best candidate for the job – why else would you run? I assume you have ideas, things you want to change or maintain, so tell me about them. I assume you know what you’re talking about and have done your research on issues that face our community, so educate me. From this point forward, no matter how long you’re in the race, tell me about you. And if you have a legitimate complaint about your opponent, cite all sources like a responsible person. Give evidence, not innuendo. And avoid scare words like “socialism,” but give us the information and let us decide for ourselves. Tell those campaigning on your behalf to do the same. If you can’t reign them in, then how are you suppose to lead? Their actions are your actions.
Leave the mudslinging to the editorialists and letters to the editor. It’s our job.
The national election is too far gone, but that experience in Lancaster showed me that Pennsylvania can be the Keystone State again, leading the way for positive and issues-based campaigns. And I don’t mean “hot-button” issues that are, again, designed to bypass our human brains and freak out the animal brain. I mean issues that directly impact us, here, on the streets where we live.
I call on all candidates to respect themselves, respect each other, and respect the voters you want to represent.
And above all, be kind.
Andrew Bundy is a husband, father, teacher, writer, and nerd. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.