Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Courier column

For the last month I have been writing a weekly column for The Courier.

From time to time I will post a column here, after it has been off the news stands for a while, and if I think it is still current. The following is my first colum, which was published in The Courier on September 13, 2007:


Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidates, but look to their character

I start my first column with The Courier with a thank you to publisher Jim Purcell. I’m honored that Jim thinks my commentary makes a difference in the community and I will do my best to write informative and thought provoking columns for as long as I am welcome.

As we enter the election season I am reminded of my experience last year as a Republican candidate for council in Highlands. I expected my running mate and I were in for an uphill battle when one Saturday morning while greeting voters and handing out literature at the post office a woman I’d never met before stopped her car on Bay Ave, jumped out and shouted, “Are you a Republican?” “Yes I am,” I replied. “You should be ashamed of yourself!” she shouted out me and then drove off.

I knew we were really in trouble when a dear friend of mine of over 20 years, a medical doctor, sent me an email apologizing for the not being able to vote for me because he wanted to send George Bush a message. “George Bush doesn’t know who I am and the election results in Highlands, NJ are the furthest thing from his mind,” I said. It took me an hour and two phone calls to turn my friend around. I was amazed that my friend, several people I met walking door to door, and probably that woman at the post office really thought that how they voted at their local level would affect events in Washington, and that national parties somehow influenced what candidates and office holders think and do on the local level. I’m here to tell you, the only communication this local politician gets from Washington is pleas for money.

Even on the national level, political parties today are less about ideology than they are about business. If you are voting the party line on a local level, you are voting more for attorneys and engineers than you are for the candidates themselves.

In New Jersey, our government is in a state of crisis. We are a national laughing stock. While most states are enjoying record budget surpluses, we are in a vicious cycle of deficit spending and borrowing. Brazen corruption, structural deficits, and ever rising taxes are causing tens of thousands of residents to leave with what they can salvage every year. Both major parties can reasonably be blamed for the sorry state of our state. However, in truth, it is we the voters who are to blame. We have let the political establishment run rampant with our liberty and our money. We collectively look to the ubiquitous “they” to solve our individual and community problems. “They” have taken over New Jersey because “We” let them have it. Yet “We” still have the power to take “It” back.

In his 1789 work,"Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education," Noah Webster, father of the modern dictionary said:

“In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate - look to his character as a man known of principle, of tried integrity, and undoubted ability for the office.”

Webster’s lesson is as relevant today as it was at our nation’s birth, especially here in New Jersey and Monmouth County.

In one month we will chose all 120 of our state legislators, two Freeholders, a Sheriff, a County Clerk, Mayors and Council/Committee people of most communities. Please take the time to get to know the candidates. Read their literature and attend a debate or event where they are present. Regard not their particular sect or domination (party) but choose men and women of character, of known principle and tried integrity. Choose men and women of undoubted ability for the office they are seeking.

1 comment:

JIM_PURCELL said...

thanks art. and you are right. i think the political parties have got to start being less important than the candidates. right now, though, an independent couldn't be elected if they had the best argument in the world, at least not on the county or higher level.

"clean elections" depend not only on good candidates but on party machines playing a straight game. and political parties are the least trustworthy thing we have in politics.