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Enough is Enough: Politics today involve more mud-slinging than skill

By Robert E. Macdonald

Mayor of Lewiston

Never nod when you can wink, never speak when you can nod, never write when you can speak and never discuss sensitive issues with more than two people in the room to maintain deniability.

This is effective if the other person is not wearing a wire.  Good common sense advice.  But in today’s world, common sense is no longer practiced.

In days long gone by, politics was a skillful art, practiced by above-intelligent individuals familiar with foreign and domestic policies. Those desiring a career in politics would hitch their wagon to a successful politician. This allowed them to be groomed on the finer points of politics.

Success dictated you had the ability to carefully listen to the information and not only make a clear decision, but also justify it using your acquired skill in public speaking.

But the final days of civility disappeared during the radical 1960s. Extremists masqueraded as college professors, forgoing the art of teaching and taking up preaching anarchy.  They were aided by college administrators who did not have the intestinal fortitude to put a quick stop to this nonsense.

Today, success in politics is not measured by policies and ideas, but how much mud you can throw and have it stick to your opponent.

Last week I was appalled and angry upon reading a story in the Lewiston Sun Journal stating that Lewiston mayoral candidate Ben Chin had referred to the people living in my Ward 6 neighborhood as “racist.” This came to light after some of Chin’s disenchanted former supporters leaked emails from his campaign.

The article appeared in the upper left corner on Page 2 of the paper’s City section. On the lower third of Page 1 of the same City section was a story about a crack dealer sentenced to a decade in prison for a crime he committed on February 10 of this year.

My question: Which story has more of an impact on Lewiston, the sentencing of a crack dealer or hard-working, law-abiding citizens of a respectable Lewiston neighborhood being branded as “racist” by Lewiston mayoral candidate Ben Chin?

The reporter asked how he, Chin, had determined that some of the residents were racists. Chin stated that they had made some comments, but failed to articulate those comments.  Apparently, that was good enough for the obsequious reporter, and the interview was terminated.

My question: Why was Chin allowed to blow off this interview by providing a meaningless, unclear explanation? I can tell you from past experience that if I had said or written something similar, I would have been on Page 1, above the fold, for a minimum of two or three days.

Lastly, after reading the local letters to the editor in the Sun Journal, it has become woefully apparent that a majority of voters do not understand the workings of city government. Far too many have no idea what the duties of the mayor, city council or the school committee are. In order to have effective government, you have to have voters who understand how it works.

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