I love democracy, but what I don’t love about the way it gets practiced is simply this: Too often it encourages people with poor impulse control to act poorly.
Like stealing campaign signs out of a nice lady’s yard, as we had in one Pensacola City Council race. Or personalizing criticism from a political opposite to the point that a police complaint results, as we had in some recent paperwork filed by City Hall staffer Derek Cosson.
Or a gubernatorial debate that is ground to halt over the placement of a fan.
From the state level all the way down to local races, examples abound of the way grownups allow themselves to be drawn into bad choices because they think that’s the way it has to be.
I’ve had many folks — smart folks — tell me that politics is a “dark art.”
That in order to enter the field you have to agree to play by a set of rules that mandates the abdication of a piece of your soul to the darkest lord of all — the love of power.
They believe that because it’s the way they have seen it practiced time and time again.
But here’s the dirtiest little secret of all — politics is dirty business because we allow it to be.
It is daunting to believe that this tide can be turned at even the state or national level.
Indeed, as long as the folly that is Citizens United is allowed to stand, it seems fairly impossible to imagine that the political system can be run by anything but the guy with the biggest checkbook.
But locally at least, we ought to hope for more.
Next week, we will swear in a set of new or re-elected public officials in a kind of political New Year’s Day. New faces will be added to the mix, leadership roles will be shuffled.
Let’s make a political new year’s resolution. Leave the shenanigans at home.
Skip the anonymous blog posts. You aren’t improving the silence by sharing.
If you just can’t help yourself, at least be adult enough to put your name to it. Not your fabricated Facebook nom de guerre. The name your mother gave you.
When you get called a name, put on your big boy britches. As human beings we are blessed with the capability for higher thought processes — including the ability to gauge the consequences of our actions.
An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind after all.
A sense of proportionate response is important in all facets of life. If you spend some significant portion of your time engaged in political dark arts, don’t be surprised when the wheel of karma turns back your way.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out.
Put the RFPs out for bid and let the chips fall where they may.
Do good, meaningful work; don’t work at being mean.
Don’t call for any more studies until the action items from the ones already gathering dust are implemented. No more studies on how to market the Port of Pensacola, or lease parcels at the Community Maritime Park or cure homelessness until we do what the experts we’ve already paid to weigh in on those items have suggested.
Everyone who ran for an elected office claimed to be a voice for you, Dear Voter. They fell all over themselves for the chance to speak for you.
It’s your job to make them mind their tongues.
Originally published Nov. 12, 2014.