So in this “new world” we are facing many unique situations. Social distancing has now become part of the political landscape and our local, state and federal politicians’ campaigning has changed dramatically.
It makes me wonder what type of clout Mike Bloomberg could have had right now with his billions at his fingertips for advertising. Certainly campaign funding has to have hit the wall during our recent crisis and will more than likely, although I don’t think anyone wants to talk it, may cause some problems in our elections.
But on the local front I think it may be even more complicated when you think about it. Newcomers are trying to get their word out about themselves and that usually is meeting with groups, going door to door and simply being visible. That’s not going to work right now in our current environment.
So how does it happen for the newcomers? Selfishly I would say use our newspapers as a vessel and our digital platforms. I’m sure many will use Facebook and many of the other social platforms, but in that there are many inherent dangers. The social platforms certainly carry clout, but we also know misinformation is rampant and false rumors can grow like a storm cloud without any basis in facts.
Tricky times for sure, but it almost makes the playing field not level in so many ways. Of course I could say that about running for president. Unless you have millions, you aren’t going to be president. But it does seem the incumbent candidates have an advantage as far as recognition. Not to say they don’t deserve it, but it does put the new candidates in a real “catch up” position.
I certainly don’t have a dog in the hunt here. I haven’t had the time to form opinions on any of our locally elected officials. I mentioned the other week I do feel our local politicians are the ones who really are looking after our best interests and good competition, mainly elections, should keep everyone on their toes.
I covered several Alabama gubernatorial elections over the years and the one thing which stood out was the interaction between the candidates and the voters. It was so important the candidates shook hands, met people, listened to stories and then slapped people’s backs and kissed babies.
My favorite story during that time was sitting with then, soon-to-be governor Guy Hunt, at a breakfast place in Dothan, Alabama. Not a soul was there. No one showed up to meet Guy. He had a couple of his campaign people with him, me, and the folks who worked at the restaurant. You could hear a pin drop.
“You going to eat your eggs Guy?” I said as I leaned across the table smiling.
The room suddenly broke into laughter as it dawned on everyone we had been just sitting there saying nothing. Hunt went on to win the election and gained momentum after Bill Baxley and Charlie Graddick beat each other to death in their primary.
I think the face to face meetings are important, maybe even more so today than when I was covering the governor’s race. I have often said many politicians are out of touch with reality and with common people. I certainly hope our elections this year aren’t how we will do this routinely, but even more importantly, I think its best when we can meet our officials and our other candidates person to person, so we can feel good about our votes and who we cast them for.
If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 876-0156.