In approximately 26 hours the local primaries will be over. Finished. I, for one, will be overjoyed.
See, local primaries are very different from state primaries.
State primaries are a cake walk.
After all, in state primary, candidates are seldom well-known by voters. For the most part, we don’t view them as real people. We see them precisely as they portray themselves: as artificial hodgepodges of props, promises, popular opinions and loads of shined-up bullshit. Consequently, we’ve no problems discussing their message, qualifications, prior performance, personal life, and/or suspected connections to big business, bad business, hookers, communists, the Klan and/or space aliens. Heck, we actually enjoy these discussions, and no matter how insulting or outright ridiculous they get, they seldom create hard feelings.
The same cannot be said for local primaries. These candidates are our neighbors, congregation members, former schoolmates, employers, or their uncle on their Mama’s-side lived next door to Daddy’s Aunt Maribelle for 30 years, so, by God, we happen to know FOR A FACT they a) come from “good people” or b) stold her weed-eater or know the guy that stold her weed-eater. Love `em or hate `em, we have strong feelings about them. Therefore, any honest opinion given is likely to result in a disagreement, fallin’-out or with one person offering to pray for the other. (In case you didn’t know, in small southern towns, offering to pray for someone after pointing out alleged shortcomings is a subtle jab – one for which there is no retaliation. Seriously, what are you gonna say? “How dare you?” or “I decked him in the mouth Officer because he threatened to sic some Jesus on me!”)
This doesn’t mean there isn’t mudslingin’ in local politics. There is. A few people get so caught up in getting their candidate elected or the other one unelected, they forget we’ve all got to live together when this is over. For those of us, who haven’t forgotten, the entire mess is awkward. You never know quite how to react when a candidate or supporter shares information that’s preceded by the statement “Well, I’ll tell ya what – and this stays just between us – but I heard….”
Also, in state primaries, the field will narrow as the campaign wears on. With fewer candidates and more space to cover, the chaos is not concentrated in one area. There may be more cheap candy handed out during town parades and hokey television ads, which make you wince for fear someone outside your viewing area may see it and laugh at you. Still, as long as the batteries in your television remote function and you know the Heimlich maneuver (in case your child gets choked on one of those political peppermints) it’s easy to survive a state primary without getting much muck on your good votin’ shoes.
Local primaries are a whole different kettle of fish. They’re huge. They’re hellacious. There’s no shortage of contenders, and the field never narrows. Ever. At all. After qualifying, no one backs out, and I mean no one… well, unless they’re caught with their hand in a cookie jar or pants around their ankles. Even then, if they can get two Baptist preachers, a Deacon and respectable town matron to vouch for them, they’ll hang. So, with a smaller battleground, more candidates and stiff competition for votes, the poor citizens of the county suddenly find themselves unable to attend little league games, public meetings, a charitable fish fry or shop at the local markets without being accosted by someone, who wants to oppose all tax increases, reduce crime, and/or build superhighways w/nothing more than a tight belt and big ass bucket of can-do.
And it doesn’t matter your political affiliation because NOTHING repels primary candidates. Trust me. I’ve tried. I’ve worn “Obama Rocks” t-shirts and “Kiss Me. I’m a Democrat!” buttons in an attempt to ward them off. (I had to send off for that stuff by mail as it’s not widely available here) but those proved to be ineffective. Most Republican candidates still asked if I was really a Democrat. No, really? Don’t lie. Are you really? Does your Daddy know? and then they’re whisper persuasively, “Psst. Hey. Why’ont you vote in our primary anyway? Just this once. C’mon. Do it. You’ll like it. It feels gooood.”
Ugh, the entire process is worse than a zombie infestation. I mean at least you can kill zombies. You can’t do anything to political candidates except practice evasive maneuvers or build up a tolerance for the horseshit they’re shoveling all over the county. See, the truth is most of these candidates are clueless and, four months prior to qualifying, had never attended a public meeting. Otherwise, they’d know they’re at the mercy of 21 commissioners (or at least a majority of them) to make anything happen – and half of those they’ve already alienated during the course of their primary campaign. So, unless one of those candidates says: “Hey, my plan is to tighten belts, formulate tax-payer friendly budgets and pass a resolution giving every resident a “get out of jail free” card and 20% discount on property taxes during leap years, and I believe in my plan so strongly I’d be willing to make my attractive cousin go on dates with every homely family member of the commissioners in order to build support. I’ll even get pictures of some of them naked if I must,” then feh, go to your polling place tomorrow and vote for the candidate least likely to lie, cheat or make an ass of themselves the next time a prominent citizens beats her husband with a Pratt’s Honey Glazed Ham and WJHL wants to do an television interview about it.
And may the best candidate win… or not.
Either way, we can all move on.