A few weeks ago, I made the radical suggestion that it would be wise to, maybe, select as our representatives people who were not insane.
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Well, now you have your chance: the primary ballots have arrived.
Let me digress to point out that the system is fairly-well skewed against sane. Money comes from the fringes, so it ends up being in the best interest of politicians to court the fringes, if not outright represent them. Thus, “sane” becomes a rare commodity — by definition, “fringe” and “sane” rarely coexist. Ergo, we are treated with the simultaneous spectacles of a show trial for people who stormed the Capitol and the arrest of a person who drove all the way across the country to assassinate a Supreme Court Justice.
So, then, you have to start to wonder: how do you decide who is sane?
In one Congressional race, it’s hard to do, with just a scroll through their webpages. For instance, there’s the candidate who touts his experience as an economist. Seems like that would be a useful background in a time of record inflation, but is it, really? I mean, surely the people who have brought us record inflation employ a few economists of their own. Here’s where it might be helpful to know that the economist explains his background as a lot like being an accountant, just without all the personality (it’s a good line, regardless of the political affiliation); but you only get to hear stories like that if you meet the person in person. Does a self-effacing sense of humor automatically qualify someone as “sane?” No, but I think it’s a hopeful indicator. And when one of the opponents of that person gleefully embraces fairly thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories (again, just from the website), the comparison is pretty simple. Of course, there’s a third member of that race, also—a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran—so, even if the choice between sane and less so seems simple, no three-way race is ever predictable, especially with a war hero in it.
And for Senate… for Senate, the primary is between a candidate who recently made a controversial statement about a cultural issue which is bound to anger the base, and a candidate who is a firebrand, but has a long history of national military service. Now, angering your base may seem insane, but isn’t disqualifying; being a firebrand isn’t a strong indicator of sanity, but maybe it’s well-earned from long service.
And then there’s the Governor’s race…
By the way, if it seems like I’m oddly focused on the primaries of one party, it’s only because that party is the only one having primaries. The other party is very disciplined about clearing the field and preserving resources for the general election.
Anyway, about the Governor’s race… There’s a person who has held state-wide office for the last couple years — in a relatively low-profile capacity — and a person whose website, well, is densely populated with “explanations.” I don’t know if either of those pieces of information indicate sanity; then again, choosing this moment to run against Jared Polis indicates, well…something.
In the end, I’ve always been a proponent of the idea that you can learn a lot about a person by the company they keep. The news came out this week (in case you haven’t heard) that one of the national political parties has thrown a substantial amount of money into Colorado to support a slate of candidates. A slate of opposition candidates. In other words… they’re trying to pick the people their party gets to run against.
Generally speaking, that’s a bright neon sign pointing at the nutty candidates.
Read, study, learn, make your own judgments. I just strongly believe that there’s way too much crazy in the world, and the less of it we elevate to high political office, the better off we’ll all be.
Michael Alcorn is a former teacher and current writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Valkyrie’s Kiss,” a finalist in the ScreenCraft Book Competition, is available now at firstname.lastname@example.org. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.
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