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Louisiana’s spicy politics

By Patrick Yoes -   May 04, 2006

Death, taxes, Edwin Edwards and dirty elections. What do the four have in common? The first two, we all agree, are inevitable. But, in Louisiana, so are the second two.

For our neighbors to the east in the city of Kenner, these past couple of years have had to be painful ones. Having to listen to all the political rhetoric being dished out by the truckload from a battle between Mayor Phil Capitano and Police Chief Nick Congemi.

The pair squared off in an election for the mayor’s seat and never got over their differences. Ever since that election, there has been turmoil, one battle after another, as each blamed the other for being closed-minded.

Certainly, all the candidates have platforms of which they feel would best serve the public. After all, isn’t that what elections are all about? This gives the voters an opportunity to choose the candidate who they can identify with. But, when political ideology is no longer an issue, well, that is where mud slinging takes center stage.

I like to call this the “only I can save the world” attitude. It simply means each candidate considers their platform as being good government and all others, just really bad politics. In some cases, they might be right. But, I defend my right to make my own assessment of each and vote accordingly. Unfortunately, elections now days resemble more of a three-ring circus than the voice of democracy.

All dirty politics are good for is higher dividends for the television networks and newspapers. Now, the battle of getting one up on your opponent becomes the rule rather than the exception.

Don’t get me wrong, every public official must be held accountable. Dirty politics accomplish only two things however: It either outrages the public mobilizing them to make their voice heard or causes contempt for the entire election process and keeping voters away from the polls. There is a lesson to be learned in this past election season; even the winners were losers.

But, there is a lesson to be learned from the political battles in Kenner. Both Capitano and Congemi were very popular candidates two years ago, but the residents of Kenner simply got tired of the fighting and fingerpointing. They wanted something fresh, new, and all-inclusive. In doing so, they sent both candidates packing. Hopefully, the candidates for New Orleans Mayor will take notice and keep their runoff election based on issues rather than personalities.

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