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April 19, 2014

DODD: Stop acting so silly

“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” — Plato

It’s the silly season in Clark County, Indiana. And it will get a lot sillier before the first Tuesday in November.

In fact, look for a great deal of silliness in just a couple of weeks after the May primary Election Day.

For complete disclosure, I will state that I work in the courthouse. I can assure you that the Clark County Sheriff’s race this year could very likely affect my future. It’s all a part of working in an environment where your current or next boss will be an elected official.

Most people who work in any job or department where their boss is elected could be a casualty of the next election, regardless of the quality of their work.

Most people who work in the Clark County Courthouse know about the political races and personal feuds that take shape every day. The quest for power and control or continued power and control can lead to some very obvious adversaries, or sometimes as the old saying goes, lead to politicians making for some very strange bedfellows.

The fact that some people who are running for office this year are sometimes involved in news stories makes for some very tricky situations for a local newspaper to cover. The public should be very leery of stories that are initiated by people in public office in an election year. Cynicism should be at the very least considered before running any story.

It makes for a fine line between the newspaper reporting the news or the local paper being used for a political purpose or as the pawn between political power brokers. It’s always going to be a tough judgment call. I do not envy the News and Tribune editors and publisher in having to make such calls.

In general, part of the mission of a local newspaper has to be carrying any important local story and that involves things that might be a part of the political races.

Leaks to the press are inevitable in the silly season. Most leakers have a purpose. And the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth might not be that purpose. Some people are real good at dealing with the media. Some are plain lousy but think they are good.

What my point is here is simply that readers should carefully consider stories that have to do with situations involving politics or stories from the courthouse. Regardless of how diligent a reporter might be, there is very little chance that the political back story will be known when they are writing any story. Some of the issues go back years and have been fought between Clark County political parties for many elections.

There are people from both political parties who will support their candidate regardless of their abilities or qualifications. The nature of politics is simply to get as many people as possible to vote for “our” guy. I know and respect people from both parties and the opposite is true for me for people of both parties. I tend to personally be left of center politically. I know both right wing conservatives and left wing radicals and they have taught me that I am neither.

I was personally wooed to run for political office this year. I seriously considered the prospect. After much heartfelt pondering, I decided against it.

One person whom I trust as a friend and who is pretty involved in local politics made me think seriously. I asked them why when I am so happy and have so little stress in my life should I consider running for a political office? His answer hit me upside the head, “Because, Lindon, if people like you don’t run, we end up with an uneducated busboy winning a political office.”

True public servants are like expensive gem stones — both precious and rare. There are some currently holding offices.

For the next few months, there are many good and hardworking people in the courthouse whose future will depend upon how you vote. It is a part and parcel of their lives that every election might bring the end to their career.

It makes for some interesting water cooler discussion — even if some of those must be carried out in whispers.

Or as I will call it, many of us will have to see if we survive the silly season.

— Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at lindon.dodd@hotmail.com

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