The Cowards Among Us
Kent Lakes, NY
August 20, 2001

The political season is upon us once again with both major parties gearing up for their respective primaries which take place on September 11. As a sure sign of the season, campaign signs and billboards have started popping up all over our roadsides like fantastical mushrooms after a rain. This year it seems there are many more signs than usual with some candidates virtually plastering entire intersections with platitudes encouraging party regulars to select them for one position or another. It is almost offensive.

Signs Blot the LandscapeKent Lakes is not unique in having signs at election time, and a Town ordinance permits them on town owned roadsides. The State of New York turns a blind eye to signs placed in their rights-of-way even if those signs create such a nuisance as to cause an accident. But that's not what this article is about. It's about cowards.

When people become involved in a political battle they often go to extreme lengths in the name of their candidate or cause. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this it takes a mensch* to take credit for his words and actions especially if those words and actions are outside the normally accepted levels of public discourse.

Last spring when the Carmel School board asked us to give our children schools that didn't have leaking roofs, broken windows and boilers that worked efficiently, a massive VOTE NO campaign was played out in the media and again, on our roadsides.

Signs sprouted for both sides - but with one difference: the signs that supported the bond issue had a name and address where you could actually talk to someone. The NO campaign had a name but there was no way to contact the people responsible for the untruths they plastered on our roadsides. We received mailings to our homes and the YES mailings had a name and address while the NO mailings had nothing more than an untraceable name to append to the lies they distributed.

And so it often is. The progressive side of an issue is not afraid to say "Look, this is who I am!" while the negative side almost always hides behind the anonymity of a nameless, faceless sign to do their talking for them. In effect, they are cowards.

They are cowards in the worst sense. They hide because they are ashamed. They hide because they do not want to have to answer for their false charges or accusations. They hide because they are - cowards.

Political cowards hide behind the fact that Americans are all too eager to vote in the negative and safe in the knowledge that they will never be taken to task for their dissociable actions.

Until now.

In July the good people of the Town of Kent voted overwhelmingly to support and build something for us. Not for some special interest group, not for some sports team but for us, the people, the community. The community worked together forging alliances that did not seem possible even weeks earlier. We worked together and we achieved a great end.

And so now, as we enter another election season I hope the negative campaign signs, unsigned and placed by a thief under cover of darkness will not fool our townspeople. We came together for something good last month and I can only hope we will come together for something good in November.

Let those who hide behind the darkness of night be silenced by those of us who bring light, joy and responsibility to our endeavors and our community.

* mensch: Yiddish ~1953. A person of integrity and honor



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Tuesday, November 27, 2001
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