By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
In 2010, when I first started working for Athens Now, it was an election year and my “baptism of fire” included writing political articles for various candidates. I made it very clear to any and all contenders that I did not do “hit pieces,” that I would let them tell me their story and let the folks decide. Most of the time I have noticed that in Athens-Limestone County, as well as most of the Alabama Legislature races, people have been largely positive in their approach and judicious with their criticism of their opponents. The majority of the candidates I have interviewed seemed like good people, had decent ideas for change, and the debate would often be over just how much government should be involved in picking up the tab for the quality of our lives. I am sure that there will be readers who want to swallow their teeth over such a statement, but that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.
I have found over the years that virtually every local candidate has prayed about their decision to run, and that is one of my favorite things even though only one can get the slot. Invariably they realize that “win, lose or draw,” if they let the rigors of the political season work for them, they will grow personally and emerge as better citizens and leaders irrespective of whether or not they got “the job.”
Now, contrast such accolades with something on the national level that arrived at our house recently. A certain candidate had super-imposed the hair styles of Moe and Curly of the Three Stooges on the heads of the opponents, and I felt like I was back in junior high. It’s a campaign style I have never gotten used to, and I suppose it works for some, but I find it repellent.
Back to the good stuff. There are three young men running for an opportunity to spend the best years of their lives in Washington DC, and I believe they all have a bright future ahead of them irrespective of whether or not they win the race. I was at a rally recently where I had the chance to speak to one of them after the rally was over. I had observed that throughout the course of the evening they were genuinely enjoying each other’s comments and chatting when appropriate. I asked one of them, “What is it like to truly like your opponent?” He chuckled and said, “It’s weird.” I replied, “I find it refreshing.”
I suppose the word “refreshing” is pushing it a bit as far as describing a political season, but this year has been my favorite so far. Of course, the primary election is on Tuesday, May 24, and really the most important part of this Point is a plea that you won’t buy into the idea that the “primaries don’t matter,” or that your “vote doesn’t count, anyway,” or any other reason that besmirches the sacrifices made that you might have a voice.
So, to those who have run a clean campaign, my deepest thanks. To those of you who haven’t, I hope your campaign is over on Tuesday. Any way it goes, I am once again reminded that I have been blessed to be an American woman who has a voice, and my profound gratitude belongs to all who have given of themselves to protect my voice.