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In My Opinion
Politics Is A Rough Business...
Editor
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 • Posted February 27, 2014

Many years ago, I worked for Garry Mauro when he was the Texas Land Commissioner. I was in the Veterans Land Board, so my job was very fulfilling and I was able to see that I was making a real contribution to helping Texas veterans qualify and obtain the things that had been earned by their service.

There came a time, however, when I found my job to be less than enjoyable. When Commissioner Mauro ran for reelection, the entire tone in our office changed.

Employees who supported the opposition candidate had to keep their feelings and opinions very quiet. That meant no bumper stickers, no signs in their yards, and no water cooler conversations about how they planned on voting. Additionally, every public appearance became an "opportunity" to get pictures and video of the Commissioner while he was looking very electable. That meant always making sure that any situation that might not look good for the candidate needed to be "managed and controlled" in advance.

I stayed through the campaign, and Commissioner Mauro's reelection victory. Those fellow employees who had supported the other candidate found their positions quietly eliminated, including my boss. A new person was brought in to be my supervisor, and it quickly became clear that they had neither the skills nor the intelligence to run the department. I soon learned that he had spearheaded a huge voter turnout for the Commissioner, which probably explained his new position. I decided not to stay around, as many of his bad decisions were being blamed on his subordinates, and I didn't want to find myself taking the blame for his inability to do his job.

That was not my first exposure to political campaigns; but, it was my first "up close and personal" look at how politics works, and how the game is played. It was not pretty, and it has not changed.

I was around for the campaigns that pitted Mark White against Bill Clements. White had defeated Clements, and the whole reason for the campaign of the Mr. Clements was to take back the office he felt had been taken from him. He won, stayed in for just one term, and did very little during that term. He had already gotten what he was seeking.

I was a student at The University of Texas during the early 80s when Ronald Reagan was running against incumbent President, Jimmy Carter. The West Mall on campus became a battleground between the Democrats and the Republicans in that campaign. UT also had a large population of Iranian students during the overthrow of the Shah and the hostage crisis that followed, both of which figured strongly in the campaign rhetoric being thrown across the mall.

And I've watched campaigns in the following decades become ever more bitter and polarizing. I can't say that campaigns are worse than they've ever been, as even Abraham Lincoln, while serving as an Illinois legislator got himself drawn into a duel for having used some rather venomous campaign rhetoric against an opponent. Obviously, cooler heads prevailed and the duel was stopped at the last moment.

During political campaigns, people say things and do things that they have said they were not going to do. They become CANDIDATES, focused on the win and forgetting the consequences of their actions. On a national level, when all the votes have been counted, everyone can return to their corners and quietly lick their wounds while writing their version of events for a "tell all" book. On a local level, those candidates must continue living together in the same community - attending church together, going to school functions together - shopping for groceries together. There are no books, no other rewards waiting.

We still have one week until the primary election. Then we have months until the general election. We have MANY opportunities to do things the right way, and even more opportunities to do it the wrong way. It's our choice.

It’s all just my opinion.

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