It is amazing that in the 17th largest city in the union there can be such pettiness. Politics by their nature are adversarial but shouldn’t it be a little more adult? The last two weeks have shown why El Paso politics will never rise above the mediocre.
First we have two assumed mayoral candidates that can’t make up their mind on whether they want to serve the public. Our current mayor, Carlos Ramirez waits by the wings waiting on a job offer from the Bush administration. Then we have Ray Caballero stirring the pot to see if a run for the mayoral ship is in the works. Although the candidacy signup deadline is not yet up, both Ramirez and Caballero do a disservice to the El Paso public by playing on the sidelines. If Mr. Ramirez wishes to move on, then it is time for him to step up to the plate and let the public know about his intentions. By the same token, Mr. Caballero should both announce his intentions to run and start tackling the issues he so cleverly has initiated or step aside and challenge the announced candidates to the issues.
Second, the media should stop playing games with the public and start reporting the news in a fair and balanced fashion. Although the news media is a business that generates income from advertising, it should separate the business from the news. Reporters should be allowed to report the news as it presents itself and not on how it will affect the bottom line. Hard issues need to be presented to the public in a factual basis so that the public can be more informed as it goes to the polls.
Third and final, participants in online forums such as this one and others should be allowed to express their opinions without having to endure personal attacks. Any person has a valid point, whether you believe in it or not. Each point of view should be a point of discussion and an opportunity to learn, not an object of ridicule. Instead of initiating articulate and educational discussions, forum participants resort to personal attacks and veiled threats to stifle personal expressions. In the last two weeks participants to online forums have been intimidated into not participating or ridiculed because they dared to express an opinion. Writers have been harassed into not participating and others have threatened economic hardship if they continue to express their views.
Political races should be an opportunity for the public to express their dissatisfaction. It should be an opportunity for citizens to participate in their future in an informed and educated fashion. The only way to do that is to have a level playing field with declared competitors, a constant source of balanced information and a source of lively discussion on differing points of view.