Murray Bishoff: Enduring the whirlwind

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Youíd never know from looking around Monett, and most of our neighboring towns, that thereís a storm brewing out there.

Thereís not that many campaign signs forecasting the election. Few of them are for local races, or for people that anyone local knows personally and sits down with the coffee klatch at a local eatery.

Itís rather interesting that no proliferation of signs on the marijuana issue have surfaced. Local people, conservative as they are, have chosen to not make a lot of noise on the subject. If they favor liberalization of restrictions, they arenít particularly eager to prompt the ire of their neighbors, who may not feel so inclined. That way, no one loses face after the vote is over. Everybody wins.

The closeness of the McCaskill-Hawley U.S. Senate race is also a plus. It stresses the outcome is by no means a foregone conclusion. Everybodyís vote counts. Donít be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Weíre fortunate to have honest county leaders running our elections. No voter suppression efforts are underway around here. More than anything, we need to figure out how to get Monett people to the polls. Monettans have suppressed their own vote for a decade now by generally not bothering to vote. That doesnít help anyone.

If there are those worried about a minority voter turnout locally, they may be lulled into a sense of false security because so many of the Hispanics came from parts of Mexico or Central America where the government was never on their side, so they would never consider voting anyway. Whatís more likely is that those who have naturalized or grew up here have become so much like everyone else that they vote just like everyone else, indistinguishable, so that even if they voted in a block, no one could tell.

That, too, is probably a good thing. Nonetheless, there ought to be outrage if political leaders treated these people badly. Deliberate prejudice warrants a response. Biblical scholars in any of our churches ought to know scripture from the Book of Hosea, ďThey that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind.Ē Donít worry about someone elseís position. Just make sure where youíre grounded.

Thereís an amazing amount of smoke floating in the air this election season. Candidates are being blamed for all kinds of misjudgments and outcomes that no one person could create. You almost need a bath watching the TV ads. One canít make reasoned judgments based on mud balls. It becomes necessary to put all this stuff in context. That means you want to put on the wading boots, test the mud, and try to put that stuff into context. If you canít vote decide based on the candidateís merits, judge by the context, the quality of the campaign and whoís lining up on either side.

State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, has expressed reservations about redistricting in his opposition to Amendment No. 1. He sees the potential of more evenly distributed election districts in the Kansas City and St. Louis as ďa way to silence rural voters.Ē Thereís of course a longstanding rivalry between rural and urban Missouri. But with so much of the state budget going into education, and Republicans working hard to limit spending for social services, itís truly hard to see potential for much of a seismic shift, short of the urban legislators sucking the money out of the rest of the state. Thatís not very likely. Rural legislators arenít going to disappear. If priorities change, money going into people programs helps people everywhere, rural and urban.

For that matter, itís hard to see how making southwest Missouri voting districts more evenly distributed by political party would make much difference. Going back to Democrat Max Bacon, Democrats and Republicans in southwest Missouri have pretty much looked alike, except for current State Rep. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, in Lawrence County, a Republican who is in a league of his own.

If the worries are primarily ideological on party line votes, the focus has gotten off the main point ó whatís good for southwest Missourians. If decisions on the floor of the General Assembly stay focused on whatís good for people, parties would work together, and redistricting wouldnít make that much difference.

As southwest Missourians, we have less to fear and more in common than this political season would have us believe. Our biggest worry ought to be that election season animosity never ends.

Weíve got another week to screw up our courage to withstand the gale and move forward. We owe it to each other to not sit back and let the wind blow.

Itís time to do our part.

Murray Bishoff has served readers of The Monett Times since 1988. He can be reached at times-news@monett-times.com, or 417-235-3135.