Editorial: That scary time of the year

A Rappahannock resident I know has long-standing plans to travel to east Africa next month, but she is keeping it a secret. She fears she may awaken her neighbors’ fears about somehow contracting Ebola. Or maybe, she wonders, whether she could undercut those fears with humor — donning a “hazmat” suit for Halloween, for instance.

Meanwhile, what’s truly scary — and therefore probably worth worrying about — went largely under-reported and unremarked-upon because, as an abstraction, it doesn’t trigger the primitive (fight-or-flight) limbic regions of our brains:

This past September was, on average, the hottest September on record for planet Earth, meteorologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday. The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces was 60.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.30 degrees hotter than the century’s average. It was the fourth monthly record set this year (along with May, June and August)!

Fear’s not-so-distant cousins are apathy and disillusionment, which come into play this election season. How else to explain the seeming contradiction that Rep. Robert Hurt, Rappahannock’s congressman, like virtually all incumbents, will no doubt handily win re-election this Nov. 4, even though less than 10 percent of the electorate thinks Congress is doing a good job?

Meanwhile, Rappahannock County’s former (until redistricted) congressman, Eric Cantor, who surprisingly lost his re-election bid in a primary last summer, is still a winner — taking a multimillion-dollar job on Wall Street. Mr. Cantor perhaps shouldn’t be singled out, however; his post-elective-office career is standard operating procedure for former members of Congress.

This kind of behavior surely breeds, if not fear, disillusionment and disenfranchisement. No wonder so few Americans are expected to vote on Nov. 4, and the most successful politicians are often fear-mongers.

Locally and lately, there’s been a lot of vocal criticism about the governance of the county seat, the Town of Washington. But to my knowledge there have been no serious efforts to present alternate town council candidates or to organize a petition among town citizens asking for a referendum on revoking the town’s charter.

We get the government we deserve.

Walter Nicklin
Publisher