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Woodworking: I've had it: Take me back, Mother Country

Well, another election has come and gone. I, for one, am glad it's over and am making plans to move.

Last month, I told readers I was moving to Haugen, Wis., where they have great breakfasts and well-maintained sidewalks.

But it turns out that won't be far enough away. So we'll be moving to England. No, not New England. ENGLAND England.

Haugen, you see, is out now because one can still see U.S. television commercials up there. And right now my spouse and I are sick to death of watching U.S. television commercials, especially if these commercials are busy flakking for some political candidate.

So England's the place to be.

In that, our parent nation, politicians can only campaign in the media for one month. After that, they have to shut up and wait for people to throw them in or out of office.

Isn't that a great idea? The recent U.S. election was just the opposite, with tens of millions of dollars thrown down the drain for one nearby congressional campaign.

In the old days over in Minnesota we made fun of Mayor Charlie Stenvig who told the press he lost the election to Albert Hofstede because the media kept "hurling insinuendos at me."

This past season the commercials were made up of neither innuendo or insinuation (is that what you meant, Charlie?). They were just plain nasty and full of half-truths and untruths.

And both parties were guilty.

I can't speak to Wisconsin politics because here in River Falls we get no Wisconsin political news. That may be a good thing, because we certainly get enough junk from across the River.

I voted for Joseph Biden, but I certainly can't approve of his remarks about anti-tax folks. (He said, "Whenever I hear someone talk about 'no new taxes,' I'd like to strangle them.")

I'm all for more taxes, but I certainly wouldn't want to murder someone who didn't agree with me. Biden said he was "only speaking metaphorically."

Even so, it's an indication that civility has lost its way in American political life.

I remember when "the opposition" -- that is the Minnesota GOP -- were peopled with friends of ours, folks like GOP State Chair Robert Forsythe, a real gentleman.

This year, GOP State Chair Tony Sutton referred to some Republicans as "Quislings." He said "there's a place in Hell for those Quislings" -- former Dave Durenberger, former governors Arnie Carlson and Al Quie and other middle-of-the-road candidates who had the temerity to endorse former Republican Tom Horner, who was running as an Independent for governor.

What's a Quisling? It's another one of those "metaphors," taken from the activities of one Vidkun Quisling, a Norwegian Nazi who betrayed his country to the Germans in 1940.

How has all this come to pass? How has American politics become a blood sport, so soon after politicos like Barry Goldwater and George McGovern could argue on the Senate floor and retire for cocktails and camaraderie an hour later?

Dare I say it? How about television?

Maybe it all began with talk shows like the McLaughlin Report years ago, when journalists from both sides of the ideological aisle would shout and scream at each other for half an hour.

We should have known that was trouble when we learned that colleges actually paid these "personalities" to come to campus and stage these uncivil debates.

I like Bill Maher's nasty jibes as most folks do on his "Real Time" show. But it becomes somewhat disturbing when he complains that the incumbent -- from whatever party -- hasn't done anything wrong this week, so he can't be nasty.

Television thrives on such stuff -- and also laughs all the way to the bank when it bills the candidates' campaign chests for the multitudinous commercials that almost never outline a plan of action or a plank in platforms we used to pay attention to.

Platforms and planks, too boring.

So I say this country would be better off with campaign rules like England.

Think that's going to happen? When was the last time hell froze over?

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9544.