Send your message on election day

Published 3:21 am Wednesday, November 6, 2002

By By BILL CRIST – Publisher
This Wednesday we'll all be able to take a deep breath and sigh that this campaign season and election are over…hopefully. This election season will probably be remembered for candidates running campaigns based solely on their opponent's flaws and outrageous spending. Wouldn't it be nice if instead of that, this election marked a turning point in our state and nation's future and was remembered for that?
One of the hardest things to do during an election season is to sort through the campaign rhetoric and identify where the candidates really stand on issues and exactly what their plans for the future are. Most of them will refer to a vision for the future and give broad and general outlines of their plans. You almost never here them say, "The problem is (fill in the blank), we are going to do (fill in the blank) and it will result in (fill in the blank)." They tend to stop at the first part of the sentence and try to find a way to pin the blame for it on their opponent.
While many of the candidates in this year's election have flaws, they are also the men and women that we've chosen to run for office. Everyone on the ballot this Tuesday earned his or her spot by winning a primary race earlier this year. We've had over six months to listen to each of the candidates' messages and form our opinions. In two days, we have the opportunity to send a message of our own, and hopefully most of us will.
Experts have studied what kind of effect negative campaigning has on voter turnout. Most would agree that it tends to hurt overall turnout, which is sometimes what the candidates are looking for. By manipulating turnout, they feel they can impact the final results, hopefully in their favor. Perhaps that is the reason so many candidates have to look for cracks in each other's armor to point out to the public.
Instead, we should try to focus on the issues at hand and the solutions that are being proposed. Our state and our nation face numerous challenges and how we overcome them is a matter of great importance. The key to funding education, fixing our prison system and making sure we have enough state troopers to patrol our highways does not lie in character flaws. The answers lie in sound policy and creative ideas.
Negative campaigning or not, as citizens, we all have an opportunity, as well as an obligation, to express our opinion on Tuesday. That is the day that sets our country apart from nearly every other one in the world. Election day is our opportunity to have a voice in the decisions that will be made over the next several years, decisions that will have an impact not only on our own lives, but those of our children and grandchildren.
Unfortunately, with each passing election, fewer and fewer of us make the commitment to educate ourselves about the issues and the candidates and then take that information to the voting booth and use it. We either buy into the campaign slogans and vote for the most media-savvy candidate or we simply stay away from the polls all together.
Over the past several weeks, The Brewton Standard has tried to give a little insight into the candidates and which ones we feel will best serve our community. Many of you agreed and many disagreed with those opinions, which opened a dialogue on our opinion page, and hopefully did the same at the coffee shops, dinner tables and other informal forums around town. Whatever the outcome of those conversations, whichever way you lean politically, the most important thing you can do on Tuesday is set aside five or 10 minutes to vote. This is an important election and important issues will be decided. Our future leaders need to hear what you have to say. Your vote Tuesday will send a message to them in a way that they understand more clearly than anything else.
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