Stand up and be heard – Amanda S. Green
Last week, I asked “how far down the slippery slope are we going to go?” As the Iowa Caucus nears and the political rhetoric ratchets up another degree or three, that question becomes even more relevant. Do we vote for a man who denies that he is a career politician despite the fact he held his first elected office in 1981? Or do we vote for the woman who not only went shopping for a residence where she could be elected after her husband finished his last term as president but who also has shown she has little regard for the law of the land? Or how about we vote for the man who hasn’t met a dollar he doesn’t want, no matter whose back he has to step on to get it? This is the same man who, just a few months ago said there was no question about Ted Cruz being eligible to run for office and who, at the first sign Cruz might be gaining on him in the polls, now says Cruz needs to go to court to prove he’s eligible.
It is hard to get excited about any of the leading candidates right now. You have a statist, a socialist and Trump, who is unlike anyone else. Now there are rumblings that Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, might run as an independent. That’s right, the very same mayor who was so worried about his citizenry’s waistlines that he outlawed the big sized soft drinks – somehow forgetting that a person who wants to drink that much will simply buy two – is considering running for president. Won’t that be fun? We’ll get to hear how he wants to make us all healthy as he takes away our guns.
Add another name to the “oh hell no” list of candidates.
So how does this relate to last week’s post? It’s simple really. As more and more people reach the point of disgust with our political candidates, they contemplate not voting. After all, what is the good of voting when all you are doing is voting for the lesser of the evils? It’s a sentiment I’m familiar with. That’s especially true after some of the presidents we’ve had over the last generation or two, presidents who had no qualms about sidestepping the Constitution and the separation of powers by using executive orders to push their own agendas.
It would be very easy to give into that temptation to just sit back and not vote. After all, so many of us were taught that the president doesn’t have all that much power. Laws come from Congress and all the president can do it sign them into effect or veto them. If he vetoes them, Congress then has the chance to override the veto — if the required number of votes are there. Unfortunately, in this day and age, that separation of power doesn’t stop a president from trying to use executive orders to get his agenda pushed through.
So, as distasteful as it is, sometimes the lesser of two evils is better than sitting back and letting the worst evil gain power. But there is more we have to do. We have to keep a check on what our representatives in government are doing. It doesn’t’ matter if that person is the elected dog catcher or the President of the United States. If we don’t know what they are doing, that is on us.
So what do you do it you aren’t happy with what your elected representative is doing? You let them know. You let them know that you are keeping track of what they are proposing as new law and how they are voting. You let them know that you are watching their performance on the committees they belong to and you know when they make a vote and when the oh-so-conveniently miss it.
But you do more than that. You talk. You talk to your family and you talk to your friends. You talk to those people who come door to door and ask you to support their candidate. You go to the areas where early voting is taking place and you talk to the candidates. You ask the hard questions of the incumbent and the person(s) running against him.
In other words, you become an informed electorate.
Here’s the situation we are in in my neck of the woods. One of our state reps was elected several terms earlier solely on the basis of his affiliation with the Tea Party. He was a new face on the local political scene at a time when the electorate was tired of the same faces always running. A number of voters wanted a clean sweep of the government and this particular person was elected as part of that ground swell.
He could have taken that as an opportunity to really work for our community. Instead, he has done very little with his time in office except get in trouble. He continues to be elected based on his Tea Party affiliation and the power of the incumbency. I have seen him and his followers physically intimidate volunteers for other candidates. And I have stood up and campaigned against him.
Me. The one who doesn’t like stepping out into the spotlight. I have always preferred working behind the scenes. But I have stood out in the cold to watch the polls. I have stood in the heat and rain to campaign for candidates running against him. I have stood before this person and asked the hard questions and watched him squirm because he didn’t have the answers. I will continue to campaign against him until he either proves that he is representing the best interest of my district or he is defeated.
Resignation is as much an enemy of our freedom as is complacency. If we give up on our electoral process, we might as well hand the keys over to those who would destroy us. Universal healthcare sounds like a grand idea. But how is it supposed to be implemented and paid for? Those were the questions we should have been asking eight years ago. We didn’t, at least not enough of us did. So now we have this new health care system that is costing so many of us much more than what we had before. But we have universal health care – except we don’t. Insurance companies are pulling out of the pool, leaving people without insurance. We have a broken system we are being penalized for if we decide not to join it.
We have candidates promising to make drastic cuts in taxes in one breath and then promising to strengthen our infrastructure and military in the next. But how? Where are you going to get the money to pay for these programs – or any other – if you cut your income stream? Our debt is already too high. So don’t tell me you want to borrow more or issue more bonds.
Oh, I can hear some of you saying that can be done by cutting costs elsewhere. Okay, that would work. But where? What programs should be cut? I have more than a few I would love to see removed from the books. But we never hear about that stage of the plan from the candidates or, if we do, it is in such nebulous terms that there can be no way to really check if their plan would work.
So, at a time when we are all focused on who the candidates will be for the presidency, we need to also be looking at who will be filling the seats on Capitol Hill that will be coming up for election as well. These are the men and women who can and should act as a check on the President. They are the ones who can vet and veto his appointments. They are the ones who can take action when he tries to circumvent the Constitution and the laws already on the books through executive orders. They are the ones who hold the purse strings.
And a government lives and dies by those purse strings.
Here’s my question to you. How many of you can name your representatives and senators on the national level? My guess is that most of you can. However, here is where it gets a bit trickier. How many of you can name your state reps and senators? Do you know who your county commissioner, or equivalent, is? How about your city councilmen? Are your commissioners and councilmen elected at-large or by district? How about your state supreme court?
Yes, it does get to be a lot but that is our responsibility as an informed electorate. We need to know the who as well as the what. That is the only way we can begin to take back our country.
Stand up. Look around. Listen and, most of all, be heard.