Small Town Politics: A Lesson in Civility and Sportsmanship

If you have ever lived in a small town, you are familiar with nepotism and greed. You are also familiar with the down and dirty tactics sometimes utilized by self-professed pillars of the community. The reality of living in a small town is that just under the surface of the peaceful facade lurks a darkness that far too often hinders growth and progress in rural areas. I am talking about politics.

In order to move forward, we must first tackle the seedy underbelly that prevents us from progressing. Dirty politics serves no purpose other than sowing division, and that division halts growth. Commentary meant to divide removes hope for unity. Denigrating opponents is bad enough. Attacking voters is one of the worst things you can do. It brings progress to a halt.

Photo by Will Porada on Unsplash

In a time when voter turnout is a major issue, we need to work to encourage voting. Bashing voters discourages voting and this serves to decrease the number of voters who show up at the polls in future elections. When you verbally attack the very people you asked to vote for you, you are promoting the idea that all politicians are two people — the nice one asking for your vote and their true self shown after the election is over. This makes more people distrust candidates and the system. Voter turnout will continue to decline.

When a candidate claims to be pro-women but displays a completely different sentiment, it makes voters question motives. As someone who is very vocal about domestic violence, I pay close attention when a candidate makes claims of wanting more for women. The comments I have seen are anything but.

This is not the 1950s, and women have a voice. The women before us fought for us to have a voice. Contacting a woman’s husband to request that he get his wife under control illustrates a mindset that is anything but pro-women. Threatening to involve a man to deal with a woman speaking out is anti-women and reeks of approval of violence against women. This should never be promoted or condoned. A person cannot claim to be pro-women while possessing the mindset that men should control women or be used to silence a woman.

As a white woman, I hesitated to speak on the claims of racism thrown at all the voters who supported the winning candidate. Despite my apprehension to speak out on this topic, I feel it is necessary. When both candidates are of the same race, I struggle to see how racism factors into the results of the election. I also find it deeply concerning that a candidate would attack black voters for supporting a black candidate and claim those black voters are somehow supporting racism by voting for a black candidate.

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We are struggling to get more black voters to show up at the polls. This is not productive. Telling a black voter who voted for a black candidate that they support racism has consequences. How much harder must we all work to convince people to vote? How much more work is it going to be to convince people their voice matters when a candidate tells them they are wrong for voting how they did?

This is likely to discourage black voters from participating in the election process, and it does not seem pro-black to me. In order to change the system, we must vote to make changes in the system. How can that be done when voters are discouraged? We need to encourage black voters, and it is disheartening to see someone working against that goal. You cannot spark change when you speak out in ways that demonstrate your slogans are the opposite of what you claim.

Photo by Breanna Louise on Unsplash

If you truly want to help disenfranchised groups, you do not need to hold an office. In fact, you have more freedom to help others when you do not hold an office. We need people to assist others with small business grants and loans. We need people to step up and help others navigate the paperwork required to start businesses. We need people who can direct people to resources that will help them grow their communities. It is time to step up and turn words into actions.

When are we going to end dirty politics? When is this going to stop? If not now, when? Indeed. It’s time to put all of this to rest. People spoke out against it at the ballot box, and I hope this trend continues. This is the only way we will have a better Bolivar.

Pilkington is an aspiring beach bum who enjoys travel and sweet tea. This published author has been featured in Health Magazine and many other publications.

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