#251 – Dick Bernard: Campaigning.

Yesterday our local candidate for state legislature was door-knocking in our neighborhood – at least I know she was, since there was a flier with a handwritten personal note from her in our door.
Campaigning for office is brutal work, not for the faint of heart, and I sometimes wonder what would happen if all of those who collectively run for all offices would just say, in unison, ‘forget about it, life’s too short, I’m outa here”. Then we might come to some appreciation of the largely thankless labor our representatives provide, regardless of party, regardless of position, regardless of level.
Our representative is running for a third term. Best as I’ve been able to see, she’s run as a centrist – a survival skill in her district – and she’s ably represented the interests of her district and the state of Minnesota, her state.
“Her district”, in Minnesota, means basically about 40,000 people in part of one suburban city. Conservatively, this is 10-15,000 households, minimum. Trying to balance the interests of just her constituents is one thing; trying to represent her constituents while at the same time entering into endless negotiations with colleagues and assorted interests at the state level is something else again. There is an endless barrage of competing priorities, and at the end there is a record, gleefully dissected by an opponents apparatus who, these days, is not constrained by that quaint concept, honesty. (And who, further, is not constrained by a record – the opponent has never run for office before, to my knowledge.)
So…about the time our candidate was knocking on our door, our mailman was delivering a piece of what I would call “hit lit” from the opposition. It was, of course, attractive, with lots of flying feathers, saying that the opponents had “ruffled feathers” over our Representatives reckless spending which was, they cutely said, “for the birds”.
One enterprising friend did the research on this claim. She found that the expenditure referred to was from a fund established by Minnesota voters 18 YEARS before our Representative was in office, and furthermore, it was fully funded by lottery ticket sales and mandated for the specific use to which it was put. In other words, our candidate had nothing to do with either the fund or the expenditure.
Another mailing from the same source “complained about an alleged expenditure from the Nongame Wildlife Management Account which…is totally funded by those who check the box on their personal or corporate tax returns saying they wish to donate $1 or more to the fund, plus by private donations.” (quote from my friends letter to the editor, likely to appear in the local paper next week.)
The damage, of course, is done. More people will at least glance at the fliers in the mailbox, than will read the letter to the editor. Allegations will trump facts…with some voters.
So, our legislator walks on, neighborhood to neighborhood, doing her best to knock on every door, while trying to keep some semblance of personal life together – dealing with her mother’s recent death and other things. One cannot be a real person and run for office, either. That’s why so few are up to the task.
In the warfare that is politics, there is no time for letting down, of taking things for granted.
We’ll do what we can to help our candidate, and candidates, as will many others.
But we all need to pitch in.