We need to hold candidates accountable

Published 9:50 am Friday, July 29, 2016

The Democratic National Convention ended Thursday night with Hillary Clinton making her acceptance speech to be that party’s standard-bearer.

I didn’t watch it. I didn’t watch the Republican’s convention either. Come to think of it, the last time I watched political conventions was 1992, when Hillary’s husband, Bill, was nominated for his first term as president. One reason for not watching this year was my failure to get excited over either of the party’s candidates. The other reason is the lack of suspense that used to go with a party’s national convention.

Before the 1996 political conventions, there used to be some mystery who the parties would nominate. Real politics were in play as contenders worked with state party leaders to get those important committed delegates. Then states began holding presidential preference primaries. The primaries were not a new phenomenon; several states had been holding primaries to select their delegates for years. New Hampshire was one of the first. But after the 1992 conventions, the idea of primaries began expanding, and the mystery surrounding who would get their party’s nod for president vanished.

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The first presidential conventions I truly remember were in 1960, John F. Kennedy versus Richard Nixon, and the debates, which Kennedy won, not so much on the substance of his answers but how he appeared — cool, calm collected, and sure of himself — in contrast to Nixon, whose sweaty upper lip and 5 o’clock shadow gave the impression he felt nervous and insecure.

Another that sticks in my mind is the 1968 conventions, particularly the Democratic convention in Chicago with the rioting in the streets and the mayhem on the convention floor where news reporters and delegates were manhandled by convention security. The confusion and carnage shown on TV, plus a weak candidate in Hubert Humphrey, led to the Democrats losing the election.

It was also in 1968 that Nixon began a new form of campaigning that would become the standard practice of future campaigns. The issues-oriented campaign, where the candidates took positions, fell by the wayside and candidates began using sound bites and avoided questions from the media or danced around them. Personally, I play dance music in my head when I hear a politician try to avoid giving a direct answer.

Now, politicians play to a crowd like a defense lawyer plays to a jury to gain sympathy for his client. You don’t know where they stand, because they keep changing character to play to interest groups. And when they face tough questioning, they whine and cry and complain they’re being picked on. It makes me sick.

What we need now is for people to hold these folks accountable and make them answer the tough questions about their plans. The dance is over. It’s time for politicians to grow up and be responsible to the people.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at john.surratt@vicksburgpost.com.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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