We are at the end of our election time series on ‘Stinking Thinking’, a voters’
guide where we have explored the various ways politicians may make it hard to know
where they really stand and what life might be like if they got some time at the helm.
We have a diverse group presenting themselves for office. Ages vary widely,
some have long careers in law enforcement, some in business, some in politics and many
are taking their first run at elected public service.
Prior to this election we will see columnists, writers of letters to the editor and
members of various political groups exchange both favorable and unfavorable
characterizations of policies, personalities and positions of those in office as well as those
who wish to be. Some may be factually based; some may be heavily biased and some
may be tough to understand.
I find the following perspectives helpful for me as the election bears on us.
Present council and those who wish to be are neither one-dimensional, cure-alls, nor evil
men blindly nudging our little hamlet into hell while they gleefully fiddle over the fire.
Furthermore, running for public office entails sacrifices, tempts the temper and
sometimes strains the soul. Campaigns and governance are at the very least challenging,
council office is not financially rewarding and the work entailed is often
In the first four parts of this series we talked about how those who clamor for our
votes may be guilty of stinking thinking and the importance of us recognizing that.
Nonetheless, there are two overriding issues we must all remember. Politicians are just as
human as you and I and we are all just as capable of ‘stinking thinking’.
The key ingredient to our representative republic is how well the ultimate power
behind the throne avoids ‘stinking thinking’ in exercising the greatest right of all. That
power is us, the voters, and the right is our vote
Will we fall prey to apathy and not become informed about the candidates and the
issues, assuming it does not matter? Worse yet, will we not vote at all? After we vote,
will we follow through on expecting our elected officials to perform honestly, ethically
and consistently with their promises? Will we subscribe to the City of Fairfield’s web site
and be attuned to council agendas, recorded council videos and press releases and the
like? Will we follow the issues online or in print, show up and speak when agenda items
that matter to us are scheduled? When the call goes out for folks to sit on committees or
commissions or give input on major issues, will the sound of silence in city hall be our
Will we weigh or positions thoughtfully on measure Q or candidate X or will we
selectively omit evidence or arguments we might not like or that challenge what we
thought was true? Will we employ wishful thinking as regards our city’s financial
situation or carefully look at the consequences of our vote and work on ways to creatively
deal with them? Will we carefully examine the pros and cons of change? Are we
discounting experience or defaming innocence in our choices of candidates?
Are we making hasty generalizations or listening to attacks against persons rather
than positions? Do we want a council of same thinkers or diversity? Do we understand
that complex problems such as crime, the best use of land, after school issues and transportation and economic development, to name a few, are clearly interrelated and
require rolled up shirt sleeves team work and that we are part of that team?
The target of this five part series has not been only those who seek out public
service. It has been me and you. The foulest stinking thinking is when we fail to know
well the smell of our own ‘stinking thinking’ too. Vote wisely.
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