Column: A politician once came to speechify in Hartland

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Al Batt, Tales from Exit 22

My telephone rings.

That&8217;s what telephones do.

It&8217;s a call from one of those working in the trenches of a political campaign.

Even if you may not be interested in politics, this is one of those rare times when politics is interested in you.

The friendly caller has a need to confabulate with me.

My fellow American tells me that congressional candidate X voted against helping little old ladies cross the street, refused to sing along with the national anthem at a baseball game, stole my lunch money when I was in grade school, puts whipped cream on his hot dogs and drew a moustache on Billy Graham&8217;s picture. She says he is likely lurking in my garage, holding my dog at knifepoint until I will agree to vote for him. She tells me that we are headed for hell in a handbasket unless I vote for the right person. The fate of the entire free world is in my hands.

I expect her to ask me to buy a video called, &8220;Political Candidates Gone Wild.&8221;

A friend told me that elections are held in November because it’s the best time of the year to pick out a turkey.

Each election year, we complain about the attack ads, the mudslinging and the negative campaigning.

Each election year, we encounter attack ads, mud slinging and negative campaigning.

Why is that?

It&8217;s because, despite our protestations otherwise, such campaign tactics work. Politicians are not stupid. They put their money where they get a good return. Because voters are influenced by attack ads, mud slinging and negative campaigning, such violations of the Golden Rule will continue to be a staple of American politics. Trash talk works, hence the parade of nastiness. Fear mongering often results in successful election results. An old Russian proverb says, &8220;Good news must be carried. Gossip needs no carriage.&8221; This is the greatest country on earth, but Pogo might have been right when he said, &8220;We have met the enemy and he is us.&8221;

The candidate who spends the most money usually wins. A portion of that money is typically spent on ads that make our mothers want to say, &8220;Shame on you!&8221; You can fool some of the people all of the time. You can fool all of the people some of the time. But you can&8217;t fool all of the people all of the time unless you have enough money.

We could eliminate all of the attack ads, the mudslinging and the negative campaigning. We could accomplish this by simply auctioning off each of the coveted, elected positions to the highest bidder.

At this time of the year, we are inundated by political propaganda.

All this constant campaigning annoys the undecided voter. That is why the League of Undecided Voters has a growing membership.

There are many promising candidates and many of their campaign promises are sound. Just sound.

&8220;I&8217;ll lower your taxes,&8221; we&8217;ve heard from so many &8212; that it&8217;s hard to believe we&8217;re still paying any!

The difference between golf and politics is that in golf you can&8217;t improve your lie.

How stupid do candidates think we are? They think we are each dumber than a stump, but the great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid. Gas prices have dropped a bit, so people might even be able to afford to drive to the polls on Election Day.

I can offer a couple of keen political insights that I have gleaned from years of voting for losing candidates. Never vote to re-elect any candidate whose election signs remain up a year after an election.

Why is it all the politicians who want to &8220;clean up government&8221; are the last ones to take down their yard signs after an election is over? Another thing to remember is that yard signs don&8217;t vote.

A statewide candidate was once in Hartland trying to drum up some votes. Wanting to let the hicks in the sticks know that he was just one of the guys, he made it a point to chew tobacco while visiting our farm community.

When he felt the need, he would spit into a plastic cup that he had assigned one of his underlings to carry.

He didn&8217;t get many votes in Hartland that year.

The consensus of the voting public was, &8220;He must think he&8217;s too good to spit on the ground like the rest of us.&8221;

It&8217;s a cautionary tale for all those running for office.

Be careful where you spit.

My name is Al Batt and I approve this message.

(Hartland resident Al Batt&8217;s messages appear every Wednesday and Sunday in the Albert Lea Tribune.)