Column: We can’t stop political nonsense, but can we at least limit it?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 13, 2002

It is November, the &uot;Vote For Me&uot; month. Signs multiplied like rabbits on lawns as election time approached. I saw many candidates’ signs in one yard. This may indicate some dissension in the household or perhaps the inability to say &uot;no&uot; to anyone who requests a space for a sign.

I have a neighbor who votes each year for the candidates who put up the fewest signs. He says that if they spend so much money just to get elected, imagine what they would do once they get their hands on a big pile of our tax dollars. He says it is hard to trust a man who wants to spend ten times what a job pays in order to get the job. He has to wonder about the intelligence of someone who does such a thing. Who is driving the brain bus in such cases? He says that the only ones who get the big offices are those who have already made too much money in life. It has got to the point where the major requirement to be a cabinet member is that you are a multi-millionaire. Politics is a noble profession, or at least it was before it became infested with politicians. We hear from everyone during campaigns, as closed minds never come with closed mouths. This year my neighbor put up only one sign. It read, &uot;This space for rent.&uot;

Election Day is when everyone becomes an expert on what a candidate should have done. I enjoy the day. I stay up late listening to the election returns. I, like almost everyone else, am both thrilled and disappointed with the results. This year was an interesting one. Minnesota always has something that demands a national audience. This is because Jesse Ventura put Minnesota on the map &045; at least that is what he claims. I vaguely recollect studying a map of Minnesota when I was in school, but I must be mistaken. Minnesota had a memorial service for Paul Wellstone and those killed with him in a terrible plane crash. The service turned into a political rally that included the booing of some of those in attendance.

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Booing isn’t appropriate for a memorial service. A dead woman won an election in Hawaii. A legislator in Georgia named Max Cleland lost his office after his opponent ran a campaign declaring he was not a patriot. Cleland lost both his legs and one arm while serving as a soldier in Vietnam.

Another candidate’s campaign ran a TV ad stating that his opponent was in favor of public urination. These negative attack ads, no matter how silly and infantile, must work, because they keep doing them. It is hard to find anything positive about negative ads. Maybe politics is like a stew &045; if you don’t stir it up occasionally, a layer of scum floats to the top. Ben Jones, otherwise known as &uot;Cooter,&uot; was also voted out of office. He played &uot;Cooter,&uot; a deputy sheriff in a TV show called &uot;The Dukes of Hazzard.&uot; A souped-up Dodge Charger featured in the program, the &uot;General Lee,&uot; was prominent in Cooter’s campaign. Waylon Jennings sang the theme song for this show, but he was not available to sing a campaign song for Cooter. Cooter lost the election &045; there will be one less rerun this year. More pro wrestlers threaten to enter the political arena. I fully expect to hear a concession speech that includes threats of a flying mare and an airplane spin. Or a candidate that will declare himself the winner because his opponent is a self-confessed bedwetter.

I have followed politics since an early age &045; I was a successful baby who learned to kiss politicians. I do have some suggestions to make the election process easier for all of us. Of course, I have previously suggested that pro football should eliminate punting and time-outs in order to speed up the interminable games. I haven’t heard back from the NFL. I also contacted a company that makes cellular phones and suggested that cell phones be wired so that they become red hot when used in a moving vehicle. But back to the election; no one should be allowed to collect lottery winnings who is not a registered voter. Each major office should have a candidates’ debate that lasts three days &045; 72 hours straight with no rest for the participants. The last person standing would be declared the winner. My last suggestion is that campaigns should be limited to 60 days. Let’s have 2 months of campaign ads, signs, flyers, phone calls and door-knockings instead of two years of such shenanigans.

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.