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HOLLENBECK: No mud-slinging allowed in my mythical political world

September 26, 2011

Norman Vincent Peale wrote a book called “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
I’m considering acquiring copies of the work to distribute to candidates for local elections, including the ones who sought school board positions in the recent school election.
In the first place, I don’t like lies, half-truths, false statements, “rearrangements” of facts — in short, anything that’s not really the unvarnished truth.
I’m not talking about little white lies in the name of kindness — such as responding to a question like “Does this dress make me look fat?” — to which the appropriate answer would be “No, of course not.”
Who’s got the right to insult someone unnecessarily? This kind of deviation from what’s really is simply an act of kindness.
What I’m talking about are out-and-out falsehoods — or falsehoods by innuendo, which tend to have the same effect.
Unfortunately, during political races, they tend to fester like flies.
This year’s school election has caused my feelings on this issue to come to the surface. It was unnecessarily ugly when it should have been a positive experience for all involved.
It’s influenced me to embrace my spouse’s philosophy about such matters. The only problem is that his approach would silence many candidates before they ever entered the race.
All elections, in Ed’s perfect world, would render the candidates silent in regard to their opponents.
“From the moment the candidates announce they’re in the race, they never can say another word in public about the opposition,” Ed said.
In his political ballgame, there would be no such thing as one, two, three strikes, you’re out.
Nope. You throw your hat into the ring and from that point forward you stand on your own merit, never dwelling on your opponent’s shortcomings or that which you perceive to be such.
In fact, it might be nice if the candidates couldn’t say anything at all. They could be rendered mute until election day.
Silent elections could be conducted in the same manner as a silent auction, according to Ed.
“If the candidates were to ever speak publicly, they would have to withdraw from the race,” he suggested. “There would be no excuses acceptable. It’s silence all the way or they have no chance at winning the office.”
It’s a pretty innovative idea.
Ed is his mother’s son, I’ll have to say.
Wiinnie Hollenbeck’s philosophy was basically: “If you can’t say something good about somebody, don’t say anything at all.”
He’s convinced me that it would be a giant step forward for mankind if all candidates were to subscribe to her thinking.
Winnie truly practiced what she preached. When a ne’er-do-well died in her hometown, someone pondered what words of kindness might be said at his funeral.
Winnie offered this suggestion: “Well, he was the best whistler in town.”
That’s stretching, but at least it’s positive.
Since most candidates don’t/won’t subscribe to the power of positive thinking method I’m advocating here, I have an alternate proposal for changing campaigns altogether.
I propose that all commentary should be subject to the treatment given contestants on the old TV Gong Show.
Before taking the podium, the candidates would be ordered to tout their own merits. Period. The first time one might slip and say his/her opponent’s name, the gong would sound. This would serve as a warning.
Second time? A double gong. A more serious warning.
Third time there’s a gong, the candidate is outta there. Permanently. It’s do not pass go; do not collect $200; just go to the house.
This, though, is the tactic for merely making mention of the opponent, whether truthfully or with malice and falsehoods aforethought.
And my ultimate plan: With the first actual lie the candidate tells — against his opponent or claiming strengths he himself doesn’t have — his/her nose would start to grow, just like Pinochio’s. And with each lie that follows, the nose would get longer. And longer. And longer.
At some point, the ears would follow suit, getting bigger and bigger, till the candidate would change on the outside to the grotesque being he/she has become on the inside for having told the untruths in the first place.
If this wouldn’t be an incentive for telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I’m out of options.

Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of the Benton Courier.
lyndahol@yahoo.com

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