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Our system of electing people wasn’t nearly as bad when patronage ruled

The elections are over, but as I write this all I know is I don’t like how campaigns are run.
Where I grew up in Eastern Jackson County, politics was part of our life. All the county jobs were patronage. Actually, that’s how our Democracy was built. President Andrew Jackson said “To the victor belongs the spoils.”
In Jackson County, the spoils were the patronage jobs. It didn’t cost anything to run for office, because if the elected official had 20 employees, those 20 employees not only gave him part of their paycheck to cover election expenses, but also went out election day – which was a holiday for the county employees – and brought in the votes for their boss, the elected official.
These elected officials ran the county so efficiently, they never raised taxes and they never issued bonds, except to build roads. Jackson County’s tax levy was 77 cents per hundred valuation, the lowest in the nation for a Class A County. It was debt-free, and had a AAA credit rating.
Then two things happened. The do-gooders and the powers to be (money people) decided workers shouldn’t be laid off when their elected official was defeated and be replaced by new hires. In the federal government, they call it civil service and in the county they call it the merit system, whereby it is almost impossible to fire a government employee.
I ran for committeeman and also formed a political club called the Sni Valley Democratic Club. Even then in the early 1960’s, the county and state officials would come to us and offer to pay for our printing and sample ballot if we would put their name on it.
Today, when an elected official comes by or contacts you, all they want is money for their television ads. So now you have to be rich to run for any office, or take money from the lobbyists and the wealthy who also demand control of the elected official’s vote when they need it.
I liked it better before the do-gooders and rich took over the election process.

Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075, or jackremembers@aol.com. Visit www.jackremembers.com

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