Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Informed voters?

The runoff elections are this weekend. Do you know who you will vote for? Why?

These are the questions I have been struggling with lately. As much as I try, It is hard to be informed of the candidates in local issues. I hate to lob a brick at the local media, but they just don't cover the local races in any detail. I realize they need to sell papers/attract viewers and will spend more time and resources covering the races that impact the greatest number of readers/viewers. I am very sympathetic to their quandary. If a news station (tv or radio) or newspaper doesn't make money, they will cease to exist. But they need to devote more coverage to local races. Not because I say so, but because they are the MOST important.

Imagine all the levels of government, local, state, and federal, arranged into a pyramid with federal on top. Federal should garner the least of our attention, followed by state and local. It is the politician closest to you, in my case a JP councilman, that has the greatest potential for impact on my life. The current view of the majority would turn the pyramid upside down, focusing all their attention on the layer of government with the least impact on any given individual's life. It is this focus on the federal government that has given them all their power as we have lost ours.

What if I told you that I did not think that the general public should elect Senators and instead, the state legislature should pick them. You would probably call me antidemocratic (and you would be right. Good thing we live in a REPUBLIC) or crazy. Would you call Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, et al crazy as well. Because that is the system they created. Voters did not earn the "right" to vote for US Senators until 1913. Until then, state legislatures selected the senators and represented the state legislature in congress. They represented state governments and did not vote to give powers from the state to the feds. This changed in 1913. Voters gave powers once reserved to the states and the people to the federal government. It's been downhill ever since.

Imagine all the attention garnered by the presidential candidates shifted to your local race. A pipe dream, maybe. People won't pay attention, probably. But that is how it should be. The federal government has grown into a huge overbearing ruler it was never intended to be. As of 2004 there were 4000 federal crime laws. When the constitution was written, only three: piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. Many of the laws have no legal basis in the Constitution. The blame lays squarely on the people, specifically those who voted to increase the power of the federal government and those who did not vote.

How then, do we get people to be more involved in local politics? The media can't be forced to cover it. People can't be forced to pay attention. But, if the power could bleed from Washington back to the States and the people (where it belongs) people will pay attention. Sort of a poor man's "build it and they will come". As long as people's focus remains on the White House, the power will too.

When I go into the voting booth tomorrow and press buttons beside candidates names, I'll have no clue who to select. My choice may by decided by the letter after their names. Or my choice may have neither rhyme nor reason, and that is a shame.

Don't misread me. The blame falls squarely on myself. I bear the responsibility to be informed when I step into the booth and close the curtain behind me.

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