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How to get a rest from the rest of the campaign season

dugan-front
The year was 1960. I was in my first year in college. The presidential election was fewer than 30 days away. The reaction was: “Why can’t we just vote no?”

The debates had gone on and were still to come. The attacks and counterattacks on television and in the newspapers and the radio had made us all sure we wanted nothing to do with either of these guys. They were both jerks, if you could believe a word said by the other campaign. John F. Kennedy won the election and went on to become something of an icon, in part because he was so tragically cut down.

But in October 1960, he was one of two impossible jerks.

That has happened every four years since then. By the time we get to November, many people think they are voting for the lesser of two evils. Every cheap shot has been taken, and nobody knows what to believe.

Some are so disgusted, they decide to stay home and not vote at all, playing right into the hands of the cynical pols who mounted the cheap shots.

That is also what you are doing if you vote for some hopeless candidate who has no chance of winning. That is what the pols are hoping for. Just stay home or throw away your vote on some protest and let other people decide who is going to run the country and make the rules you have to live by.

Some people involved in political campaigns will stop at nothing to get you to believe anything that hurts the other candidate. They have no regard for the truth. They will tell you water runs uphill if it helps because they get paid huge amounts of money to do that.

Constant character assassination, based on nothing, is going on right now. For example, some are slyly trying to insinuate that Sen. Obama is a bad person because when he was an infant, his parents gave him the middle name Hussein. You know, like in Saddam Hussein. First, he got his name years before Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq – Sen. Obama’s father was from Kenya in Africa. Second, if that kind of name similarity means anything, George Washington should have never been allowed anywhere near the Continental Army or the presidency. After all, we were trying to escape the grip of George III of England. How could we trust the loyalty of another George? Ridiculous, isn’t it? But it works with some people.

Then there is guilt by association. I had two classmates in law school (in a class of 150, in three years, you get to know everybody pretty well) who became famous. One was John Ashcroft, George W. Bush’s first attorney general. The other was Bernadett Dorhn, who took Angela Davis’ place on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list because she was in the Weather Underground.

Does that make me a closet rock- ribbed, pentacostal conservative? Or a closet radical bomb thrower? Or is it irrelevant to who I am and what I have done?

I had a fundraiser at my home once for David Kehoe, a very conservative man. We are good friends. Does that make him some kind of closet liberal? Or does it mean he was willing to accept help where he could find it, as long as it was lawful, and I was willing to help someone I thought would do a good job regardless of politics?

I have very dear friends and business associates who are either very conservative, born-again Christians or both. Does that mean I am? Does it mean that they really are not but are just pretending? Or does it make more sense to worry more about what a person says and does then to look at whom they may have associated with during their life?

Then there is the stuff said by others about both candidates. There is a claim that Sen. McCain forced classification of documents and other material received from the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese so people trying to find loved ones who were still missing could not get them. The claim is that he did so because he broke under torture and made some recordings saying that we had targeted schools and hospitals in our bombing. The assertion is that he wanted the material classified because he feared that evidence of these recordings would come out, and was willing to impede the efforts of the families of MIA’s to save his own hide.

I refuse to take this kind of scurrilous attack into consideration, and so should you. I have no idea what the agenda of those who put this stuff out might be. All I know is that I would not give it the time of day unless and until I was presented with rock-solid evidence. Similar sorts of scurrilous rumors are being passed around about Sen. Obama.

I have decided to ignore the stuff said by anyone except the candidates themselves. That serves to disenfranchise the pols and the lunatic fringe.

Further, I am not going to pay attention to what the candidates say unless they say it to each other. If candidates for office want me to believe negative stuff about their opponents, they’re going to have to say it themselves, preferably to the faces of the people they are running down.

And I’m sure as heck am not going to let election exhaustion keep me away from the polls. Remember, if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.

Dugan Barr

Dugan Barr has practiced law in Redding since 1967, primarily in the areas of personal injury and wrongful death. He has tried more than 200 civil jury cases to verdict. He is married and has five children. He can be reached at Barr & Mudford, 1824 Court St., Redding, 243-8008, or dugan@ca-lawyer.com.

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