Posted 8/4/19

THEN- During election time, utility poles were the politician's best friend. Almost every pole in plain sight had campaign posters tacked to it. Later it was signs tacked on wooden strips that …

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THEN- During election time, utility poles were the politician's best friend. Almost every pole in plain sight had campaign posters tacked to it. Later it was signs tacked on wooden strips that cluttered the roadside with every intersection infested with them like ticks on a hound dog. No matter that it was declared illegal, hey, we are talking about politicians here; they considered themselves to be above the law. Should we wonder why their performance in office has been no better and we are presently in the dismal shape that we are in today? We, in our local county, have been warned that bankruptcy is looming in the near future. A one-cent sales tax election was called and defeated because the politicians were not trusted to spend the additional revenue wisely, based on their predecessor's past performances that led to the crisis. Some things have been inherited from long ago and today's politicians apparently were poor history students and never seem to understand that they cannot give their constituents everything they want and keep their finances afloat. Oh well, we understand the rationale behind their actions, they do what is necessary to be re-elected so they can make some more bone-headed moves. 

When we go back to the methods used by politicians in local elections, there was more direct contact with the voters then than now. It was expected that there be personal contact with the voter, or a card left in the door of all the houses in the district. If the candidate did not have enough support to enlist an army of volunteers to do foot work for him, he was at a disadvantage. Volunteers tacked up campaign posters, went door to door with literature, stood at intersections holding signs and stuck bumper stickers on every car that would accept them. One of the most memorable bumper stickers was "Y'all Come" which everyone knew was an endorsement of Big Jim Folsom, a popular although reportedly corrupt governor. Candidates would mount large speakers on the roofs of their cars or pickups, blaring a solicitation to cast a vote for them and announcing the time and place where they would be holding a political rally. At the rally there would be volunteers in the crowd passing out literature in support of the candidate. Campaign buttons bearing the name of the candidate and the office he was seeking were also a popular item. 

In 1966, after graduating from college and securing a job with the state, and working on the courthouse square, I met Tom Bevill who was running for the House of Representative. I had always been in the Republican camp, but was impressed by Tom, and signed on to be involved in his campaign. Traveling with Donnie, and several friends, we gave the sound vehicle (Large speakers on top), a through workout. Tom Bevill remained a friend, and always acknowledged my help in his being elected. 

NOW- If aspiring candidates do not have the financial backing now, they had better stay on the sidelines. The name of the game in politics now is MONEY, MONEY, MONEY! It does not matter that the repetitive mud-slinging ads on TV become so irritating that one finally can no longer bear them and refuses to watch, this is where political campaigns have come in today's electronic world. It is generally accepted that the candidate with the largest amount of funds to use in a campaign has the advantage over lesser funded opponents. Incumbents who have done a decent job, and some who have not, also have an advantage. 

In many ways, the political scene is much different than it was eighty years ago. Females are now in the picture and hold many of the elective offices once dominated by males, and some do as good or a better job than the males. Blacks, who were once barred from voting, now have the same opportunities to be elected as does anyone else. Many of the large cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, which once suppressed their black citizens, are now governed by them, and they are in the majority. A black President has now served our nation. A female was the nominee of the Democrats and ran for President of the United States. 

The South is still the solid South but the color has changed from blue to red on the political map. Where Democrats once held the upper hand, Republicans are now in control. It is now the Republican candidates for national elections who do not bother to spend time in the Southern states, with Florida being the exception. Now everyone is either labeled as being a liberal or conservative, and it is this designation that has caused the switch in political parties in the South. The conservative viewpoint is dominate among the Southern populous, and therefore the individual who holds these views is the one who will be elected. Many of the old die-hard Democrats bemoan the fact that their party has left them in their convictions, and they either fail to vote or reluctantly mark one for the Republican candidate of their choice. Many of the politicians who were elected when the Democrats were in power have switched parties, as they no longer can endorse its platform and know that their political lives depend on being in the dominate party 

Contact Wheeler Pounds at 3424 Kings Mill Rd, Oakman, AL 35579, or at wheelerpounds@gmail.com.