As this election cycle continues, it causes me to reflect back many years to a cartoon set in the Okefenokee Swamp of South Georgia.
The cartoon, Pogo, was published from 1948 to 1975 by Walt Kelly Jr. Though Kelly had never lived in the South, he had a sharp ear for the different style of talking made famous by the southern dialect, plus the unique language usage of the swamp people. With the introduction of the television series "Swamp People," chronicling the daily activities of people living in or around the swamps of Southern Louisiana, there is a revival of learning the special language spoken only by those people.
The cartoon by Kelly was used to address political and social issues of the 1950s and '60s. By use of satire and pointed references to political issues, Kelly developed loyal followers and a few people who did not like his stinging reminders of prejudice and bigotry. Kelly was not afraid to tackle the issues of the day with his cast of characters in the comic strip, Pogo. Of all the panels and dialogue between the residences of the tree stumps in the swamp, Pogo the possum was the star. Using a take-off on the slogan for presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower — “I like Ike” — Kelly created a slogan for Pogo — “I go Pogo."
No doubt the most remembered phrase from the comic strip was, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” In the middle of this election cycle, the phrase from Pogo keeps ringing in my memory.
As we are being bombarded with slogans, spin, campaign speeches, promises and candidates seeking our vote, we need to realize the major responsibility belonging to each of us as individuals. Now is the time each voter needs to be paying attention to the issues and the candidates. We must make every effort to get to know the record of each candidate. We need to understand the issues on the local, state and federal level.
It interests me when someone runs for office and they create a straw issue to run against rather than offering their concept of how to best solve the real problems facing the voters. It becomes an easy reach to blame those big bad folks in Washington or Atlanta. I have lost count of the number of political speeches I have heard over the years who blame the “good old boys.” Setting up others to run against rather than dealing forthrightly with the issues always turns me off. I am not interested in “mud slinging” or knowing the negative things about the other person running for office. All of this is for nothing if the voters do not take personal responsibility to become informed and vote their values from an informed position. We must remember that the way bad politicians are in office is they are voted in by the people.
From where I stand Pogo was right, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
How will you decide who gets your vote? Tell us in comments.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter — @RayNewmanSr.