11/08/05 — The Eureka way: We all could benefit from gentler campaigns

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The Eureka way: We all could benefit from gentler campaigns

Eureka might just be able to teach the rest of the country how to run an election.

There were no expensive campaigns and no speeches or baby-kissing.

In fact, no one actually filed for any of the offices. The election is traditionally decided with a write-in vote.

So, the decision on who will lead the village is more of a consensus among neighbors than a fight to the finish between political hopefuls vying for power.

Kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

There is probably no way to actually rework elections so they become more about serving and less about grandstanding — that is just the nature of a large-scale clash between candidates these days.

Every year, millions of dollars are invested into local, state and national elections to position a candidate or to push an idea. And sometimes when there is a lot of money involved, the original purpose gets skewed, and the message lost among spin and television commercials.

In other words, the campaign becomes more about winning than serving — and who has the most money just might become more important than who has the best idea.

And maybe that is not what we should want for our country.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have the money spent on lobbying North Carolina legislators to vote for the lottery to put back into the state’s education system?

It is something to think about.

To make campaigns fair, we have to address all the hidden sources of “influence.” Unions and other groups that lobby for dollars from their members to push their candidates should be subject to the same rules that other more overt political interests must obey. If we are going to make campaigns and elections better, all these issues must be addressed and all players must be on the same gameboard.

This country will never be able to take elections back to the days when it was more like neighbors choosing neighbors; the stakes are too high today.

But that doesn’t mean that we cannot take a little lesson from Eureka and make political office a little more about service and a little less about personality and campaign chests.

Unspinning the spin just might be the change we need.

Published in Editorials on November 8, 2005 10:11 AM