Like many of you, I have a love/hate relation with the political process.
Sometimes I love to hate the entire arena. But more often than not, I'm simply fascinated with the manner we treat the journey from campaign to election day.
I've cringed at the daily diet of political speak on the national level especially with election day so far down the road. That process seems to expand through every election cycle so that many of our political leaders seem to be on a constant campaign starting from the day they are elected. It just never seems to end.
But what garners my attention more than anything are the petty swipes between political opponents that have little to do with substance and all to do with mudslinging. And you don't have to look beyond the upcoming gubernatorial race in Missouri to find a shining example.
The Missouri Republican party this week launched an attack on Attorney General Jay Nixon -- the likely Democratic candidate for governor -- for using a state-owned vehicle to travel to a political fundraiser. The Democrats countered that Gov. Matt Blunt always uses state-owned vehicles to travel to all events regardless of their nature.
Both sides are right. Nixon says that in his capacity as attorney general he requires some level of security and thus, the occasional use of state-owned vehicles. Gov. Blunt obviously utilizes the Missouri State Highway Patrol for much of his transportation as he should as governor of our state.
But here's the point. Who really cares? If Jay Nixon is visiting a community in the capacity of attorney general and also takes time for some politicking, then what is he to do -- switch vehicles to travel a block away to make a political visit? Get serious, guys. If this is all the two parties have to occupy their time and energy, then something is wrong.
Listen, we have health care needs in our state that are substantial. We have issues with education that should dominate much of our conversation. The list is endless. And yet we are fed this political garbage of who uses what cars to travel where?
And you wonder why voters are sick of the political process? Well it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this one out.
Gov. Blunt was in this office two weeks ago and arrived in a Missouri State Highway Patrol vehicle as well he should. We talked about local issues and state issues. And yes, we talked a little gubernatorial politics as well. Do you expect conversation to be guided by his mode of transportation? This is just silly, useless and wasteful tripe fed to us by the wonks who cut their teeth in the arena of politics.
Here's a fundamental lesson for those engaged in the campaign process. Worry less about how someone arrives and more about what they say and do. Don't worry about keeping auto mileage and do worry about improving the climate of education in Missouri. Don't trade press releases on who is screwing taxpayers and instead, tell us how we are going to solve a health care crisis, fund transportation needs and bring jobs to our great state.
Missouri voters want leaders with vision. And that vision must go far beyond eyeing what vehicle their opponent is driving and who is paying for the gas.