By RON JOHNSON
In a deeply divided electorate it seems that a campaign strategy of personal attack becomes the path of choice.
The media, loving the drama, fosters this form of political debate and we, as consumers, buy the notion that it is helpful in making our decisions. As in the car accident analogy, we can't look away. The juicer the vitriol the more we are pulled into this Jerry Springer episode and our understanding of the issues are lost.
John Kerry's war service is attacked by questioning one of his purple hearts. John McCain is placed under scrutiny for possibly fathering a child in North Carolina. Judge David Prince is maligned for a strange combination of personal shortcomings that to this day defy understanding.
I was proud of my community when they turned away that form of personal attack and elected Judge Prince by a landslide.
What can we do? In what forum can we express our exhaustion in the face of this constant barrage? Don't look to our local media. They have a vested interest in the drama, the innuendo, the personal attack, by telling us this time it is important.
This time we must pay attention to the mundane and save ourselves from the tedious work of researching relevant issues. For example, a recent Sunday's OBSERVER (Sept. 16) displayed not one, but two personal attack stories on the front page.
We are left shaking our heads when realizing that both articles, written by the same reporter, were attacking the same candidate with the same set of circumstances.
Big headlines bested only by the same expose' in The Post-Journal. I know the candidates for Chautauqua County judge personally, and believe they are both fine men. They both possess wide and varying experience with the law and the administration of Justice. My hope is that Judge John Ward is not party to the attack campaign and that his statements were misquoted or taken out of context.
My hope is that William Coughlin does not respond in kind, but helps inform the electorate of important issues needing their attention in making a very important choice.
My hope is that we turn away the personal attack by expressing our displeasure in the voting booth and once more allow our community to say loudly, "We do know what is important."
Ron Johnson is a Fredonia resident and village justice.