Graves' Yard: Enduring the emotions of partisan politics
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Mar 19, 2014 | 507 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There is one thing longevity as a journalist allows me to say with regularity — “I’ve seen this before.”

That was true last week when the two candidates for the post of Bradley County sheriff met for a face-to-face debate.

And yes, I had seen that one before as well.

I don’t understand why politics has to be nasty and people end up yelling at each other, either in print or in person.

It may surprise you to know there once was a time when members of Congress actually spoke to one another.

Without regard to party affiliation, they would travel, eat and socialize together on a regular basis.

Strangely enough, it also marked a time when things got done.

I recall the late Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye, a Democrat, speaking at the memorial service for his good friend, Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska — a Republican.

Inouye recalled how the two of them found much common ground and became fast and good friends.

They would visit each other’s homes, their children became friends, and they would actually campaign for each other.

There are other such stories throughout political lore and it proves how much our politics have degraded into one, giant yell fest that has given little, no or bad results.

There were times when Congressional members didn’t take the first VIP jet home. They actually got in cars and drove the hundreds of miles together.

The late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski of Illinois was at one time the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill.

He was chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee which wielded power and money when budget time came.

The Republican leader at the time was former Rep. Robert Michael who also hailed from Illinois.

When they would go home during recess breaks, they hopped in a car and drove the nearly 1,000 miles together.

Along the way, they discussed their families, good fishing spots, life in general, and by the time they would return to Washington there may have still been some disagreements, but they found ways to compromise and work together.

There wasn’t a strict refusal to talk with the other side.

Many of the legislators of the day became good friends, and although they may have served on the philosophically opposite side of the aisle, they realized that to get things done, they didn’t have to hate or personally attack each other.

There were even plans for President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Barry Goldwater, who would have been his Republican opponent in 1964, to ride in the same plane to a series of debates.

While they disagreed, it was not personal.

Last time I checked, there is no one person or party who has a copyright on every solution the country, or the county, faces.

Fighting, yelling and name calling, as entertaining as it may be, does not help find any solution at all.

The aforementioned sheriff’s race has had more than its share of back and forth, and I guess it goes with the territory.

But, I hope no one decides to vote in any race this year simply on what the candidates have said — or yelled, for that matter.

The race for county sheriff is historically a hot one whether it be in Tennessee, Kentucky or North Carolina.

I’ve covered them in all three of them and I am sad to report it’s all the same no matter the address.

However, the last word should not rest with the final advertisement or rally speech.

The end responsibility is with those of you who will cast a vote, not only in that race but plenty of others.

Just as a disclaimer, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. I won’t be voting in Bradley County.

My duty is only to report to you what is said and done.

Your duty is to verify the person you choose is the one best suited and qualified to hold the office they are seeking.

Yelling, in a general sense of the word, just isn’t one of those characteristics that impresses me in a candidate.

I think a candidate scores more points by telling voters in a calm, professional manner why they are the ones that should be given the responsibility they seek.

With the county primary a little more than six weeks away, a little decorum, please, from all involved?

Sorry, unless I missed something the only race where such decorum needs to be requested is the one to decide the chief law enforcement officer of the county.

Says a lot, doesn’t it?