We just finished an election. Proposition A (“Right to Work”) was about the only decision we here in Douglas County had to make. Sitting County Officials for the most part ran unopposed for the Republican spots on November’s ballot. The one “race” I remember seeing ended in a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 runaway. Were there any Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution, Green, etc. party candidates at all for Douglas County offices?
It is always a surprise to me that the top vote attractor locally runs unopposed, will be elected if she only collects her husband’s vote, and is the TAX COLLECTOR of all things!
Isn’t it easy to decide how you are going to vote when you know the person running, have a good idea what the office requires, and can learn how well they are doing the job? Once you get above the county level that knowledge of what the job requires and how well it is being performed gets foggy. And the “higher” up you go, from county, region, state, to national, the foggier information becomes.
How do we find out how well our State Senator, or Federal Senator s doing the job? What exactly is their job?
Any politician who has ever been elected to office above the county level, or has tried and failed to be elected, will be happy to tell you what they “plan” to do, what their “chief” priorities are, and is happy to share their “records” with you –usually after they have determined what plans you like, what priorities you have, and what actions you supported.
Most of the time, these “plans”, “priorities”, and “actions” are lost in the confusion and amalgamation of majority votes where no one person is ever responsible for anything.
Treading that fine line of doing what pleases those who run the various governments and pleasing “the folks back home” is the entire life of these elected officials. Until, of course, they are about to retire or choose not to run for re-election so they can spend more time with their families (and don’t have a snowball’s chance of winning if they did run). That’s pretty much the only time we hear anything even vaguely resembling the truth from them.
When politicians do run, how are we supposed to make up our minds? What information can we acquire that will help us make an informed decision? Where do we go to collect that information?
We can’t depend on the candidates, that’s for sure. When you listen to any of them or their campaigns you wonder how their opponents ever got the courage to aspire to the office being so morally bankrupt and intellectually challenged. Indeed, you wonder how their opponent managed to stay out of jail long enough to pay their filing fee.
Seriously, when we hunger for some calculus by which we can cast that very important vote we possess intelligently, we often can’t find it.
Sure, we can easily find jabbering that supports what we think is right and we can find jabbering that underwrites positions we abhor. But how do we decide which (if any) of that jabbering represents truth – what they did, what they will do?
We seem to be inundated with lies from the top to the bottom of our ballots that would shame a horse trader (okay, maybe not a horse trader – a used tractor salesmen?). Being caught in a lie, that is having facts, actual facts, displayed that show a candidate is not telling the truth used to be detrimental to a political career. Politicians thus outed used to resign in shame.
Nowadays, the bigger the lie the more popular the candidate is with their base. Even stupid, easily verified, impossible-to-wiggle-out-of lies don’t seem to do the tellers any damage. Is it cognitive dissonance? “They may be slime but they are my slime.”? Nihilism? Routine? All the above – and more?
Wouldn’t it be fine as all outdoors if a candidate said, “This is the right thing to do. It may not benefit my constituents directly, might even hurt some of them, but it is the Right Thing and I’m going to do it. I hope my constituents will bear in mind that I’ll do the Right Thing even if it does cause them a little bit of pain. And recognizing my integrity, they will vote for me.”
Ha! (And who decides what the Right Thing is, anyway?)
(Well, we do. Each and every time we vote.)