Several years ago, during the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election, someone mentioned to me— quite casually — that one of the candidates could not possibly be allowed to win and that any means necessary should be employed to ensure that they didn’t.

The reasons given, if I am remembering them correctly, were as follows:

a. The candidate in question had murdered several people.

b. The candidate was intent on murdering many more people.

c. The candidate might actually be the Devil, although that had not been proven.

I’m going to withhold the name of the candidate, and likewise give a proverbial pass to the messenger, because in this case that person had not yet turned 7. And while I am sometimes tempted to laugh at the out-of-the-mouths-of-babes candor of the young political pundit, it also is a reminder that children are always listening.

The child, I would suspect, had received the information from his parents and had quickly adopted the views as his own, albeit perhaps in a somewhat transmogrified form.

I can only guess at what they told him, but he clearly took it to heart.

It isn’t surprising: While running for elected office has never been an endeavor for the faint of heart, these days it seems to have become something more akin to a blood sport. Likewise, more and more candidates seem to be accompanied by an army of cyber supporters willing to berate, intimidate and coerce on their behalf.

Even here in Goochland, concerns have been raised over the tenor of the sheriff’s race and the way the various candidates’ supporters have behaved toward one another. One woman mentioned the other day that things have reached such a fever pitch in her circle that longtime friends no longer speak. 

It does beg the question, what kind of example are we setting for those who will come after us? If boorish behavior, outlandish claims and ad hominem attacks are seen as part and parcel of running for office these days, what is next? How far into the muck are we going to slide?

As we continue to approach the election in November, perhaps we would all do well to remember that pettiness and gamesmanship have no place in a community like Goochland.

We can, and should, do better.

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