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Letter: Petty politics

Political organizations should build up, not tear down.

Right around the point that the Garfield Democrats started calling for a felony charge of John Martin, I recognized scorched earth politics. I question the timing, felony tarring and the tinder dry nature of our politics. Do I hear the echo of Trump leading the chant of “Lock him up?”

I spoke with John Stephens, the seemingly well-meaning Democratic Party treasurer. Mr. Stephens described the hundreds of hours of volunteer labor that went into auditing the records. I thought of the things that volunteers can build with hundreds of hours of labor – parks, trails, homes, even genuinely useful political activity like voter registration.

Mr. Stephens also spoke of the historical corruption that racked his Missouri home state politics and the need for transparency. I mentioned to Mr. Stephens that if they were investigating truly felonious corruption, like the Pendergast scandal he cited, it would not take hundreds of hours to find merely questionable lunch spending.

I asked Mr. Stephens if he felt comfortable with county Republican parties spending hundreds of hours auditing Democratic officials and public funds they have spent. Mr. Stephens did not assert that Democratic public servants’ spending is perfect.

Personally, I don’t think I could audit my own modest household budget without finding $1,800 of misapplied funds. Absent some unmistakable sign of serious malfeasance, my wife and I don’t audit each other’s spending.

I also have no problem with county commissioners having a good lunch to fuel their discussions (so long as the discussions are public record). In fact, I have often thought that the likeliest explanation for irrational commissioners is low blood sugar. Seriously. Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking, Fast and Slow” ) links unreasonable decisions and hungry decision makers (parole judges vote 100 percent against parole when they get hungry).

It seems to me $1,800 should not fuel a big fire. Such a small infraction should not fuel a crown-burning, all-consuming political firestorm that leaves the landscape barren and the democratic soils sterile. I trust that voters and Democratic Party members will temper this type of political “leadership.” We can question and correct without condemning.

Doug Mytty
Carbondale


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