Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Them’s the Rules

A few thoughts about the Board of Ed race and the rules. I am increasingly wary of how we apply them.

It all depends. If we like a candidate, and we see misplaced campaign signs, we are more apt to say they were placed by over-zealous volunteers who don’t understand the rules. If we don’t like the candidate, we say it is a sign that this candidate thinks they are above the law and cannot be trusted. This is not exactly an even-handed application of campaign law.

If the candidate belongs to our political party, we say we find it important to know their values and have no difficulty with seeing open campaign support from that party. If the candidate is from a political party we dislike we are quick to point out the outrageousness of their being supported by a political party. They got campaign help, so that must mean they are surely taking money and that their party means to take over the Board of Education

Until very recently, it was my understanding that correct placing of political signs and running a non partisan race were the rules that all BOE candidates were required to follow. And this meant that if a candidate didn’t follow those rules, they were showing disrespect for the process. And that troubled me. I don’t want anyone on the BOE who thinks that the rules don’t apply to them.

What I have learned over the last few months is that no one can point me to the irrefutable truth of why the BOE race is non-partisan and what that means for candidates. It may very well be as simple as allowing independents to vote for BOE candidates is the Maryland primaries. To be clear, the fact that there isn’t one Really Good Explanation ticks me off. There should be.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my entire way of looking at a non-partisan race is something that I assumed, based on my own reasoning of why there should be a non-partisan race in the first place. It’s very idealistic, and some think it’s naive. Perhaps so.

I still think I am correct in wanting to avoid a board member who thinks they are above the rules. But I am less and less certain as to whether these two particular rules are useful yardsticks by which to measure this. Why? Because they are applied so haphazardly and based very often on who we like and who we don’t.

Do me a favor. Don’t tell me why your candidate doesn’t have to follow the rules while skewering
the other folks for violating those same rules. It doesn’t make me like your candidate any better, and
all it does is render those rules meaningless.

And now: back to the issues.

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