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JULY 2016


I have just finished two weeks of incessantly watching the nominating conventions of our two major political parties.  It took me back to 1974, when I passed up an opportunity to become involved in politics.

I had just finished a lawsuit in which I had represented three defeated candidates in a rigged school board election.  The story is one of the most interesting of my career, but it is too long to tell here.  The bottom line is that the school administration had been abusing the electoral process by permitting teachers to vote in the schools where they taught rather than in their home districts. We won the trial and appeals to the State Commissioner of Education and ultimately the State Board of Education. A 3-judge appellate court found that the school administration had “subverted the electoral process.”  They threw out the election and admonished the Board never to pull the same stunt again.  My political stock was rising.

The following year, I was asked to be the campaign manager for a Republican municipal council candidate who was so right wing that he would qualify today as a conservative.  I was a “Young Republican” then, as were many of my friends, but when we thought of Republican leaders, we thought of Nelson Rockefeller, Clifford Case and William Cahill.  None of them would be welcome in today’s Republican party.

I refused the offer.  Efforts to woo me into the campaign with promises that I would not have to do anything (other than lend my name) were equally unsuccessful. “I don’t take “no-show” jobs,” I said.  A campaign manager was found.  Fortunately for the town, the candidate lost.  The campaign manager was rewarded my being placed on the ballot two years later for an at-large seat on the municipal.  He was elected.  That would have been my spot, but  I never regretted my decision.    I just could not see myself going to cocktail parties, dinners and other political functions where I would have to have drinks with rub shoulders with people I disliked and then have to wash my hands. 

Now, 40+ years later, I see a sad metamorphosis of the political process.  I used to say I would not pay attention to negative ads.  I regularly threw out printed materials, switched channels and changed radio stations.  In today’s world, if you exclude negative ads, there is hardly anything to see or read.  How sad it is that a billion dollars will be spent electing a president.  I can think of much better uses for the money.  What happened to the days when a candidate was elected on his or her merits?  What happened to the days when candidates did not make up “facts” about their opponents?  What happened to civility? 

I used to take comfort that elections in the USA are not associated with violence, in stark contrast with what happens in other countries.  Even that seems to be changing, not much, but too much. 

I have made a Mid-Year resolution: I will limit exposing myself to daily doses of negative “same-old-same-old.”  I’ll find a proper balance to keep myself aware of what is going on and make a reasoned, rational decision  lever to pull the lever for the better candidate on November 8th.


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