There is an almost Christmas-like spirit in the air.
Not because it’s almost Christmas. Everyone knows it’s nearly seven and a half months until Santa Claus comes to reward good, little boys and girls on his list with toys, candy and other goodies.
No, the holiday spirit is in the air because only days remain until Election Day, the second-most highly anticipated day of the year, at least every two years.
Life in Mingo County has taken on the air of a festival since candidates filed earlier this year, in late February and early March.
The election season resembles Christmas only in the fact that it’s the time of year when the candidates are rewarded with new offices or new terms in the same office.
But, instead of receiving their gifts from Santa, who keeps a list of good, little boys and girls, the candidates receive their gifts from the voters of Mingo County, who either keep no such list, or who keep a list of who made them the most promises, or who has managed to keep from being indicted by a federal grand jury so far.
The county’s voters would be much better served if they could somehow judge the candidates’ on their character instead of their promises, but it’s extremely difficult when the candidates spend most of their time attacking their opponents instead of addressing the issues.
As a gauge of the candidates’ anticipated performance, promises rank low on the reliability meter.
They could represent legitimate goals of the respective candidates or they could be only empty words, to be forgotten once the election is over and trotted out to be recycled when voters next go to the polls.
It is difficult to judge a candidate’s character – his honesty, integrity and strength of will – from the promises he or she makes, and it is impossible when a candidate for office spends all of his or her time attacking an opponent.
Character is a quality that is hard to measure, especially in political candidates, who usually show the public only one side of their personality and another when they are behind closed doors – plotting and scheming – making plans that may, or may not be, in the voter’s best interests.
One way to judge a candidate’s character is by the company he or she keeps.
Based on this advice, and the fact that a number of people from one faction have pleaded guilty to federal indictments charging them with various crimes, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the rest of the members of that faction are guilty by association.
If Mingo County voters really want to assure themselves that they have weeded out corruption from the courthouse, it may be advisable that they send the remaining members of that faction packing.
This act by the county’s voters would not be so much a thumbs-down on the incumbents because of something bad they know about them. Rather, it would be an admission that they simply can’t tell, on the basis of the promises the candidates have made, if they have the character required to represent them.
For whatever reason, the voters of Mingo County keep returning corrupt politicians to office, then complain when the media – local, state and national – ridicule them for doing it.
It may come as a rude awakening to the majority of the voters of Mingo County, but they have only themselves to blame for making themselves the butt of jokes by outsiders.
People can only do the same thing (vote for corrupt or disingenuous politicians) and expect a different outcome (end up with honest officeholders that the voters can be proud of) before the people who are watching begin to question their sanity.
Ultimately, the voters hold the key to their own destinies.
Here’s hoping they do a better job this Election Day than they have done in past.