You know how a political campaign is like a pregnancy? They both take about nine months and you won't know if the end results are good or bad for several years.
Of course, this campaign season has had the gestation period of an elephant instead of a human, but it is mercifully winding down. Most of us have been inundated, saturated and all but homogenized by the tidal wave of television ads, phone calls and e-mails - all promising us the moon and stars - but after all we've seen and heard over the past 10 or 12 months, we are still left with one essential question.
Who can we trust?
I met a fellow last week down in Greensboro who really trusted me, but I'm not running for anything. I thought about trying to qualify for something, but my son, Jackson, told me that I was unelectable. "Too controversial," he said, and I suppose he's right. You can still feel free to write my name in for something if you want to, though.
But back to this guy. Seems like he read my recipe for my mama's cornbread in the newspaper and wanted to try it. But Mama cooked her cornbread in an iron skillet and his skillet wouldn't fit in his oven.
Know what he did? He cut the handle off his 30-year-old iron skillet so it would. Now that's trust!
I was scared to death to ask him if the recipe lived up to its promise, but I did and it did, and so all is right with the world as far as he and I are concerned.
If it were only that easy with politicians and the electorate.
If you listen to the ads and believe the campaign promises - and I'm talking about folks from both parties and all levels of government - no matter which candidates we elect, we can't go wrong. Like I said last week, they are all going to give everything to everybody and it's not going to cost anybody anything. That's a great plan, y'all. Makes you kind of anxious for January to get here so we can start reaping all the benefits of the seeds we are about to sew on Election Day.
As I was watching a few of the ads last week, in between four-minute segments of "Boston Legal," - now if Denny Crane were running for something he'd get my vote! - I started thinking about some of the promises made by politicians throughout history. There was Herbert Hoover, for instance, who promised that prosperity was just around the corner. The only thing around the corner was a runaway freight train, heading right at us.
Jimmy Carter promised us that he would never lie to us and, as far as I know, he didn't. But I sort of wish he had, because the truth was pretty painful during much of his presidency.
Ronald Reagan told the American people that he "honestly couldn't remember" a lot of the stuff they asked him about under oath, which might have been a better answer than Clinton's claim that "I never had sex with that woman." Turns out that Reagan was telling the truth. He couldn't remember anything. Had Alzheimer's disease. Turns out that Clinton was lying through his teeth, of course, but I don't blame him. If I had had sex with someone that looked like Monica Lewinski, I wouldn't have wanted the whole world to know about it, either.
Richard Nixon was one of my favorites. Tricky Dick looked right into the eyes of the American public and said "I am not a crook," which was the biggest lie since "I am from the government and I am here to help you." And who can forget the election in which Gary Hart, who wanted to be president, insisted that he was not having an extramarital affair, as had been rumored, and challenged reporters to follow him around all weekend? They called his bluff. They put a tail on his tail and found him fooling around with a model named Donna Rice on a yacht called "Monkey Business."
If Hollywood wrote this stuff, nobody would buy it. Too outlandish.
Sonny Perdue courted the votes of the teachers of Georgia by promising to be the best friend education ever had. In the six years he has been governor, my take-home pay has gone up $47, and now he's trying to cut everybody's retirement.
So much for trust. Speaking of which, my favorite all-time political quote on the issue of trust is the classic Gene Talmadge line, "The poor Georgia dirt farmer only has three friends he can trust; God, Sears-Roebuck and Ol' Gene." He was before my time, so I don't know if "Ol' Gene" could be trusted or not. I do know that there is a statue of him on the Capitol grounds in Atlanta and the inscription says, "I may surprise you, but I'll never lie to you."
I'm sure none of this year's candidates would ever lie to us, either. But no matter who we elect, I bet we are in for a lot of surprises.
Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.