Friday, February 29, 2008

The Long View

Still trying to assess the failure of the Watauga County GOP to field a team.

According to the officials at the Board of Elections, it’s totally unprecedented for one of the two major parties to simply have no candidates whatsoever for the County Commission, since that body is THE major policy-making, tax-extracting, law-writing board for the whole county and for everything that goes on in it.

Plus (and after all), Republicans greatly out-number Democrats in Watauga County. According to the most recent statistics from the State Board of Elections, there are 14,705 registered Republicans in Watauga vs. 12,359 Democrats.

But it’s not as though Republican Party officials didn’t try. We’ve heard a figure as high as 100 ... the number of potential Republican candidates who were contacted, wooed, cajoled, and/or threatened. And yet party leaders came up dry.

Comment writers down-column are speculating on why. The Boone Town Council elections last fall might have something to do with it. But more likely, it’s just plain old vanilla Zeitgeist. We have heard it said by our elders in politics that “This is gonna be a Democratic year.” Gonna be, and obviously already IS. The harsh winds of public rejection are blowing sand in Republican eyes, and even the best potential local candidates couldn’t see their way forward against that gale.

But not even to try ... seems extreme. It’s a gesture of giving up, so public and so abject, that it’s going to take one of two things to recover Republican “face”: either (a) several more election cycles while the Republicans try to rebuild and the Democrats manage to screw up or (b) a revolution in the leadership of the Watauga County Republican Party. Option “b” would be the fastest way to regeneration, but also the most bruising to certain old lizards who’ve been sunning themselves for decades in the warm glow of their own esteem. There are now MANY forward-looking, energetic Republicans with a head on their shoulders and good ideas. The problem is that many of them aren’t natives, don’t own the old family names, and they’re not regularly invited into the inner circle of power – which has been a very tight, small circle for years.

Whatever they do, the Republicans need to do it soon. Frankly, my dears, I don’t like this no–show situation for the future health of our democracy. In a two-party system, there actually needs to be two parties, and the first requirement is actually showing up. And speaking up, and challenging, and arguing, and campaigning. That sort of give and take is what keeps ideas and political parties honest. One-party government is the first step toward smugness, arrogance, and corruption. I want an opponent, an actual opponent who makes me think carefully about my choices.



<span>I have all respect for our current County Commissioners, our Town Council,and our Mayor. I believe they have my best interest at hand. </span>


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