Monday, July 16, 2007

Thank You, George W. Bush

No, seriously, I meant it. There’s something interesting happening in Nashville this summer and I think we have George W. Bush to thank for it.

Here we are, getting ready to elect a new mayor, vice mayor, new council-at-large and city council members. This is an historic election, as local elections go, since most of the incumbents are term-limited out. We’re cleaning house in our city government.

I’ve lived in Nashville for over 20 years and I cannot remember a time when the candidates have made themselves so accessible to the voters. Whether it’s through community picnics, church Sunday school classes, or house parties, I’ve had an opportunity to personally talk with four out of the six candidates running for mayor. Thanks to numerous forums and debates, both on television and in person, I’ve had a chance to hear every candidate speak on key issues facing our city--even the kinda nutty “fringe” candidate that we all know won’t win.

Even better, the local media seems generally devoid of smears and attack stories and ads. Instead I’m hearing a lot about education, the homeless, growth and development, and city finances. Can I just say how refreshing this is?

The number of debates and public forums, the many opportunities to shake these candidates’ hands and actually ask them questions myself, strikes me as rather unprecedented for an election.

This is where I give President Bush the credit: I think people here realize, after six and a half years of the Bush misAdministration, that elections matter. People are interested in the process, and they want to make responsible choices. The fact that these candidates are not driving voters away with negative attack ads has also kept the public engaged.

I dunno, maybe I’m giving the President too much credit. Maybe this all just feels new to me; maybe it’s always been this way and I never noticed before. If anyone else has a similar feeling, please let me know.