Which one is half-full?

Watching The British Open today made me think about politics. (Ok, so my wife will tell you almost everything makes me think about politics.)

When we were eating lunch after church at Carolina Wings and Rib House, one of the managers walked by and asked “Is he choking again today?” The “he” being asked about was, of course, Greg Norman. You know, the guy who not only won several professional golf tournaments but also a major or two along the way. The one who has his hands in several successful business ventures. The one who just got married to a tennis star, Chris Evert..

I know money doesn’t buy happiness but my thought here is that Norman, for all his success, is forever labeled (by some) as “an underachiever, or worse, a choker”.

Made me also think about the Buffalo Bills. What label do we stick on them? (They made it to four straight Super Bowls XXV – XXVIII. They lost all four.)

I guess it depends on whether you’re a glass is half-full or the glass is half-empty kinda person. Or, if you don’t follow politics closely, I guess it depends on if what the media (blogs, main stream) or campaign flyers say about officials or candidates.

You see, in politics, oftentimes one or two votes or one or two issues can put a label on you that you may never shake. Sometimes, it can cost you an election if people are “one issue” voters.

Political consultants have field days when they do “opposition research” because they know that every politician’s record can be presented in a bad light. The presentation can be accurate or spun in a way that makes an Eagle Scout look like a felon.

This being an election year, we’ve already seen many examples of “half-full” or “half-empty” at the local, state, and national level.

If you support school-choice (vouchers) are you “anti-public education” or do you want “to help parents/students have a choice in what works best for them”?

If you don’t support school-choice (vouchers) are you “wanting to keep our kids trapped in failing schools” or do you “want to keep public tax dollars from going to private schools”?

If you support the cigarette tax are you a “tax and spend liberal” or someone who “listens to your constituents and the facts about smoking”?

If you don’t support the cigarette tax are you “in the tobacco industry’s back-pocket” or someone who understands “putting more money into Medicare will cause more problems later”?

If you support onshore/offshore drilling in America, are you “in the pocket of big oil companies” or someone who’s “tired of seeing us dependent on other countries for our survivial”?

If you oppose drilling are you a “wacky conservationist” or someone who “believers there are other avenues to pursue”?

Most officials understand that this type of “half-full/half-empty” is simply in the eye of the beholder but it does add a dimension to politics that can really negatively impact collaboration between parties or between different groups.

Since I’ve been in office, we’ve also seen different views in SC about what a Republican is. Does this “internal division” hurt our party or is it helping our party?

Just know that things aren’t always as they appear and before you start putting labels on folks and parties, ask questions and look beyond the “soundbites” that you read or hear in the media.

I know elected officials would appreciate it – and Greg Norman would too.