Photo via Flickr.com (hjl).
Normally, I'd try and get some Halloween-themed column in here about now. But something far scarier weighs on my mind: The outcome of the Nov. 2 election.
Now, some might advocate that POLICE magazine remain apolitical. I believe that's a naive proposition at best and a fallacy at worst.
I believe that first and foremost, we must have officers' safety in mind. And when I look at what our current administration has accomplished as it relates to appeasing suspect constituencies, prosecuting some officers, and discouraging the investigative overtures of other officers, I feel obligated to speak out.
Of course, it goes beyond what the incumbents have wrought. Some of the blame can be laid to insipid campaigns like "Rock the Vote" that exhort the Silly Putty minds of American youth to get out and vote for things such as an amorphous promise of change.
When it comes to understanding election issues, I believe cops are a bit more edified than the kid just signing up to vote at a Jay-Z concert. The only thing that makes me think twice about asking cops to vote is that our familiarity with politics leads us to apathy as we ask ourselves: "Why bother? They're all scandalous."
But just as we don't want to be the cop responsible for the bad case that creates bad law and hamstrings his fellow officers, nor do we want to waste our opportunity to vote while there is any vestige of a democratic process left in this country. And if it truly is a case of choosing between lesser evils, then for God's sake at least try and choose the lesser one.
For my part, I am as disenchanted with the impractical idealism associated with one party as I am with the religious zealotry of the other. But I do have generalized notions as to which party will do a better job at protecting us on a good many fronts, which is why I'll be handicapping the names and proposals on the ballot with the same cautious eye that I have at Santa Anita (and hoping I have better luck).
I hope that you're giving serious thought to this year's election and asking yourself what your personal and professional priorities are? Ask yourself which candidate, irrespective of party, is more likely to act as an advocate on behalf of your family's interests?
Ultimately, there is damn little that will come of this election that will not impact your career, as the men and women going to D.C. thereafter will have much to say on everything from our budget crisis to the appointment of federal judges.
Just as decades of immigration mismanagement have fallen on the shoulders of state law-enforcement officials, so, too, have officers had to deal with the sometimes violent fallout of pernicious fiscal irresponsibility, the legacies of an agenda-laden Justice Department, and other failed social experiments.
With the benefit of initiative, many of our current problems could have been mitigated - the foresight was there. There was no shortage of people giving warning prior to 9/11 (FBI Agent John P. O'Neill paid the ultimate price for those who failed to heed him.), no paucity of advocates for greater government oversight of financial institutions, no dearth of precedent caveats from which to draw fair conclusions.
Such are the reasons that as I age I have an ever greater appreciation for the adage "Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it."
So, please, get out and vote.