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Editorial: Will politics as usual ever be the same again? 

I’m beginning to agree with some advice found within a song of the late, great songwriter John Prine.

The opening line of the chorus of the song “Spanish Pipedream,” goes, “Blow up your TV.”

Now that baseball season is over (in my mind, when the Braves go out, baseball season is over), what is there to watch on television without becoming crazy mad? No, I’m not mad at the dizzying number of channels offered these days. No, I’m not mad at the ability to record these channels, or to watch them in high definition.

It’s the commercials.

To be more specific, it’s the political commercials.

Political commercials on television at this time of the year during a presidential election can be, to say the least, annoying. No, that’s too kind. The commercials are obnoxious and offensive.

I’ve always held pride in that North Carolina is a swing state. You never know how we’re going to vote. I call that pride because that means we’re free thinkers, that we choose who we think is the best candidate no matter the political affiliation.

Or do we?

This year, as in four years ago but to a higher level, money is flowing into North Carolina at a dizzying rate. People from across the country are helping to pay for advertisements to try to sway our votes. So, are we really free thinkers? They wouldn’t be spending this money if they didn’t think it would work.

Why?

Political ideologies.

And while both major political parties are heading in opposite directions — both on ideologies, not on what’s best for the people — I’d like to think that here in North Carolina, we elect people for the right reasons. Because they’re the best choice.
 Because they hold our values. Because they care.

It would be nice to think that is true; but we all know people who are going to vote a straight ticket no matter who is running. We’ve ended up with a bum judge candidate for that reason. We’ve ended up with other candidates who, let’s say, are not qualified for the jobs under any circumstances.

But why would some group from California want to pile money into a state senate race to pick Davie County’s representative? I don’t have a good answer for that one; or any answer I could come up with isn’t good. Don’t they know that we have Republicans in North Carolina who can think for themselves? Don’t they know we have Democrats in North Carolina who don’t care what the national Democratic agenda is? Maybe we don’t have any of these anymore, but I hope that’s not true.

What is true is that people from everywhere are trying to decide who’s best to represent us, and that’s not good. Not under any circumstances.

Who wins? The television stations mostly. They get most of the political advertising. I’ve read that this year, some candidates have had so much money pour in that they can’t get the ads ready and on air fast enough. Social media platforms are doing well, also. Newspapers — the medium that normally provide the most detailed information about local candidates — probably rank near the bottom in receiving political spending.

And normally, I would argue with the second line of the chorus, right after “Blow up your TV.” It goes: “Throw away your paper.”

If that paper is a major daily full of AP stories, I’m beginning to agree. I read AP stories from daily newspapers and some of them make my skin crawl. I’m sure my old journalism professors who preached over and over to keep your own opinions out of regular news stories feel the same way. Some are turning in their graves. Stick to the facts, guys. It isn’t that hard.

But there is hope. Not from the political onslaught, but from the music of John Prine. The next lines of that chorus, right after “Blow up your TV. Throw away your paper,” comes the best advice you could get: “Move to the country, build you a home. Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches. And try to find Jesus, on you own.”

Pretty good advice from a songwriter, even if that advice was whispered into his ear by a stripper.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise-Record.