Those of us that follow politics on a regular basis often refer to the term “political theater”. We love a good, tough campaign for the entertainment value and it gives us stuff to write about, discuss and debate.
While this sounds somewhat cynical, it really isn’t meant that way. In fact, good campaigns are good for democracy. Debate and discuss among candidates usually results in better public policy. Losing candidates often develop creative ideas on the campaign trail that ultimately lead a winner to implement the change once elected.
Over the last couple of decades, redistricting has limited debate in the political process. Districts are drawn so solidly to elect one party or the other that we are losing competition in the process. Our democracy is at risk.
This is one of the reasons I savor local political contests. In Houston, our races are technically non-partisan though most candidates lean one direction or the other. Still, when we walk in the voting booth, there are no labels attached to the names.
They also create competition. Again, competition is good for democracy. However, this year’s Houston Mayor’s race has entered into the “absurd” zone. The Houston Chronicle on Sunday editorialized that Ben Hall should back-off from his claims about the Mayor and tone down the rhetoric. It was titled “Guess Who Needs to Stop Attacking?” Click here to read more.
On Monday of this week, supporters of the Mayor held a press conference to illustrate her diversity of support and a couple of them called on Ben Hall to withdraw from the race. Really?
Ben Hall fired back attacking the “goodbye tour of the Mayor being a coronation”.
The Mayor’s team keeps talking endlessly about the “negative” campaign that Ben Hall is running. Most of the public has not been privy to much from Mr. Hall except some biographical, introductory political commercials. He has been a broken-record calling for a debate.
In fact, the most negative campaign moves have been visibly presented by the Mayor and her attacks on Mr. Hall’s residency and release of his tax returns. Her campaign has been aggressive in defining Mr. Hall.
So what gives? Let’s get out there and have a good, strong campaign. The Mayor has multiple opponents. Most Houstonians appear to be fairly satisfied. Tell your story, let him tell his story and the voters will make the right decision! That is what we call democracy!