Southern Politics

Dear political candidates (and those who hold office at all levels),

Far be it from me to presume to know better than you how to win an election (or stay in power) but, for what they’re worth, here are my thoughts:

  • Shrieking, hysterical attack ads don’t inspire confidence or admiration. So you don’t like your opponents. That’s a given. To comport yourselves like ill-mannered toddlers does a disservice to us all. Don’t rant about how person A is a swinish, ignorant, kitten-eating spawn of the devil – instead tell me what you plan to do to address this country’s many ills.
  • Personally I do care about “moral character.” It’s actually high on the list of boxes that I tick when choosing a leader. It might even be fair to say that it’s number one on the list. What can I say – I’m allergic to hypocrisy.
  • Stop trying to muster support with hate-mongering. I don’t need to be encouraged to despise Group X just so that Group Y looks good from a lofty height. Besides, further dividing the country is counter-productive and makes me rather skeptical about your pretty and facile “one nation” words.
  • Don’t try to pretend that you’re “just one of us.” You’re not. You’re splashing about in an Olympic-sized pool of money and guaranteed security for life. I’m fairly sure that you don’t lie awake wondering if you’ll be housed in your old age or how on earth you’re going to be able to afford to food for your children.
  • Don’t bible-bash me. The more you try to force your religion down my throat, the more my gag-reflex kicks in. I don’t want you to be the self-styled moral arbiter for a nation – just its CEO.
  • I use my father’s measurement to weigh my choices (in friends, political leaders and my own behaviour). It’s what my Dad referred to as “The Four Cs”: Competence, Compassion, Courage and Candor. If you are missing a C, you’re out of the running.
  • Learn from history. No nation can be strong in any lasting and meaningful way if its populace is unhealthy and uneducated. No nation can claim to be superior if its people lack hope, clean air and water, access to affordable healthcare, promise for the future and trust in its leaders. Right now the USA is 14th in world education rankings (OECD) and 37th in healthcare (WHO). THOSE are the numbers that should claim your attention – not your latest poll results. Lose the obdurate xenophobia and learn from others. It won’t hurt. I promise.

In closing, I hope that I’ve caused no offense by my suggestions. (Oh, what the heck … go ahead and be offended because you sure have offended me lately).


Head-scratcher of the day … On Gingrich’s win in SC:

Newt was supported, primarily, by “a coalition of tea partiers, evangelicals, and young white men.” “Only 21 percent of evangelical voters indicated that having strong moral character was the most important candidate quality in how they voted.”

Evangelical def.: of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel. Marked by militant or crusading zeal. (Webster’s)

Question: How can one proclaim oneself “evangelical” while maintaining that moral character is of negligible importance (as 79% did)? It’s my understanding that morality is a rather significant part of Christian doctrine. This one’s a puzzler for sure.

Illustration by DonkeyHotey via Flickr photostream, used with Creative Commons 2.0 License.
Alex Kearns

Alex Kearns

Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town's first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unravelling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.