Alaska Editorial: Some musings about the upcoming general election

Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2006

This editorial appeared in the The Voice of the Times:

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Now that the primary election is behind us, the stage is set for the ultimate act in this year's long period of political campaigning. That will be the general election, now slightly more than nine weeks away.

The preliminary was bad enough, in the view of many - the usual three A's of every election - acrimony, accusations and allegations. On the other hand, compared with some campaigns in years gone by, the primary dust-ups were relatively mild. What that portends for the general election campaign is anybody's guess.

The prospect is that things will start off quietly and then build to what could be an ugly finale, fueled by the usual onslaught of television spots, mailboxes full of colorful literature, and televised debates that may or may not shed much light on the issues or the candidates.

One of the more irritating additions to the new art of campaigning is the rise in the number of computer-generated telephone calls. It's bad enough when a real, live person calls during the dinner hour and asks for your support, but when the phone call produces a canned pitch, there is a reason for a touch of anger.

But you can expect to receive many of those calls. Likewise, there will be an increasing number of telephone solicitations from pollsters - all promising to take no more than two or three minutes to find your opinion on those candidates on the ballot.

While those may seem bothersome, let's also reflect on something important: This is all part of the process, and it is a process essential to our democratic way of life.

In the end, it all works. We would, however, be wise to consider the counsel of Charles de Gaulle, who said, "I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians."

He was right, of course, it is too important for just the politicians. We must all pay attention in the next weeks and then select the candidate best suited to lead this state into its uncertain but promising future. At risk is Alaska's fiscal security and the longtime dream of a gas line that could ensure a prosperous tomorrow. Without that line, it can be argued, Alaska may never reach its potential.

What we do when we go to the polls in November might well have a profound effect on the lives of our children's children and their children's children. We must pay close attention to the candidates' experience, their integrity and their ability to get the job done, and we must not be fooled on these points. Journalist, novelist and historian Henry Adams points out: "During an election campaign, the air is full of speeches and vice versa."

How well the electoral process works this time around, we'll find out in November, but take heart and remember the bumper sticker popular in the 1960 presidential slugfest between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy: "Thank God only one of them can win."

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