Over the last few weeks I’ve shared some opinions that generated a fair amount of feedback. From the idea that claims of police brutality are nothing more than hypocritical stereotyping to questioning how we can claim that one set of lives matter more than another.
Heck, that doesn’t even count the hate mail from MUFFY after asking a few pointed questions.
We live in a strange world, my friends. It’s apparently no longer OK to have a different opinion.
Hey, if you want an answer to that you’re going to need to go somewhere that charges more than 50 cents. That’s a high-dollar answer that, truth to tell, I’m not sure anyone knows.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the last few weeks. Several replies I got laid the blame for all the current unrest at Donald Trump’s feet.
That got me to thinking.
There have been 12 different men in the oval office since Junior and Kay Timmons gave the newspaper world a bouncing baby vagabond. Some of those men have been popular, some not so much. But I surely can’t recall any as polarizing as the current one?
I’m sure if you hate Trump you have your reasons. Ditto if you wear a MAGA hat. But let’s go beyond the opinion, can we please? We know that passions run deep in politics at almost all levels. We’ve gone beyond the traditional Democrat-Republican rivalry. Far beyond. The candidate on your side is now the greatest thing since sliced bread while the opponent is vilified and is said to be lower than the proverbial snake’s belly in a wagon rut.
How did we get here? Beats me. The bigger question is, wouldn’t it be nice (and healthy for the country) if we got back to respecting the process / outcome? Or in other words, once the election was over we shake hands and settle in without all the poison, name-calling and personal attacks that do absolutely no good at all?
Impossible? Maybe not.
Tell me something. How is our work judged? Do you have fans and haters that sit back and cheer or boo no matter what you do while on the clock? Probably not. For most folks, our work is judged by what we accomplish. In one job it might be the number of widgets produced. In another it might be how many sales are closed. It’s concrete info, not arbitrary.
Completely unlike our hired hands in politics.
Let’s take the last two oval office occupants. Republicans will tell you that Obama was awful and Trump is good. Democrats will say the opposite.
What are they basing it on? No, I don’t mean Internet innuendo and social media scattershot. I mean specific things that are performance- or job-based.
Therein lies the issue. What does that mean?
For example, how do you judge the performance of a U.S. president? Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution spells out pretty clearly the duties the president has – enter into treaties (with two-thirds agreement of the Senate), appoint judges (with the approval of the Senate) and make other appointments. Article 3 goes into the president’s power to convene Congress and his responsibility to tell Congress what the state of the union is – a practice that has morphed into a politicized annual speech.
That’s pretty much it – and there’s not much there to go on. I mean what president hasn’t given the State of the Union speech? Which one hasn’t appointed judges, or entered into treaties. They all have. So do they all get straight A’s on the report card?
Forget presidents for a second. What about members of Congress, governors, mayors, county commissioners, city and county councils? How do we judge them?
Let’s look right here in Montgomery County at County Commissioner John Frey. He’s a lot like Donald Trump – loved and hated. But why? What sort of job has he done? What are the measurements?
Truth is, those are fluid by nature. After all, if a community has roads in bad shape and bridges that are falling down, infrastructure becomes a big deal. But once that’s fixed, a new measurement is needed. Maybe it’s jobs created? Or taxation?
Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a blue ribbon panel made up of the best and brightest who could write evolving job descriptions for each one of our elected offices so that we would all know how good each one is doing? Sure. I’ll just wave that magic wand and make that happen.
For now, perhaps all of us are the best answer. Let’s start with turnout. We need more than half the electorate to show up and vote. A lot more. Assuming we can find that elusive answer, perhaps the next step is to get candidates to offer specifics about their platforms and then hold them accountable to that once elected.
I’m not saying it’s a perfect answer, but it’s a start.
Look, all I know at this point is my opinion does not count more than yours, nor yours more than mine. But this constant and never-ending cacophony of noise does no good. We have a procedure for replacing politicians we don’t want with ones we do. It’s called an election (or an impeachment), and it sure seems like a lot of people are doing their utmost best to undermine that entire process. At this point I’m all for darn near anything that gets us away from the counter-productive hate and finger-pointing. That can’t be all bad, can it?

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at ttimmons@thepaper24-7.com.