Tuesday, July 27

Do I Not Matter?

So, I had a rare experience this afternoon. A candidate for a countywide office came through my neighborhood and knocked doors. I will be completely honest. I had no clue who the man was when he knocked on my door, but I was impressed with his answers to my questions and his overall concern for my thoughts and opinions. As he walked on down the street to the next house, for the first time I felt truly confident about the candidate I was now going to be casting my ballot for on August 3rd. That must also have been the case with many of my neighbors because suddenly yard signs for this man began sprouting up all throughout the subdivision.

I have to admit, up until this afternoon I was pretty depressed about the upcoming primary. Whereas most people get upset when they get a robocall during a Cardinals game (yes, Randy Turner, I am talking about you) or are asked to participate in an opinion poll, I thrive in the atmosphere of democracy in action. Yep, I am a political junkie. And yet I had received nothing this election cycle. No pamphlets, no telephone calls, no emails.

I am what political scientists would call a "swing voter" or what I like to call an equal opportunity thinker. I have voted for both Democrats and Republicans for local, state, and national races and truly listen to the candidates before making up my mind. Plus, I vote in every single election. With all that in my favor you would think both political parties would have been filling up my mailbox faster than you could say landslide. But nope, not a thing.

I began to wonder if my vote mattered to anyone. Do I have to go to a campaign event, city carnival, or a political party sponsored watermelon feed to engage the people that are supposed to be working for me?

You see, we complain that the people in Jefferson City and Washington DC don't represent us and our views. That is because all too often they don't spend time knocking on our doors and listening to our concerns. Instead they put their stock into special interest groups and image consultants. If more politicians took the initiative that this man did, maybe more people would become active in the political process. I guarantee you that once you meet with someone and you feel that they are genuinely concerned about issues that matter to you, suddenly you have a stake in making sure that person gets elected. And isn't that what government and politics is all about?

I don't know how I am going to vote next Tuesday for State Auditor or 7th Congressional District Representative. I am still waiting to hear something from someone that resonates with me.

What that individual did this afternoon is something that isn't done enough anymore--door to door pavement pounding politics. But he also did something more important. He took time to reach out to the people he may be representing and listened to what they had to say. I am a realist. I don't expect that man to remember my name and engage me in a lengthy philosophical discussion the next time I see him in the supermarket. But I do know that he realizes he can't get elected based on his qualifications alone. He knows the true meaning of being an elected official in this great nation. The people matter.


Anonymous said...

Shalom ~ It was a surprise to me to read on your blog that your home had not received political literature or robo calls, or even that you had not attended even one of the more than a dozen congressional candidate forums, especially since you identify yourself as both a political junkie and a swing voter who is actively looking to hear something from a candidate that resonates with you.

And, frankly, I was surprised that rather than take personal responsibility to be fully informed (even inspired) you imply an arrogance about yourself. Candidates should come to your door to engage you (whom you don't recognize when they do)?

Precinct people certainly should be walking the roughly 400-500 homes and polling the neighborhoods and be able to tell with sophistication who votes, with what party, why, how often and the issues of concern (ranked from most important to least).

When the political parties get back to that GOTV (not 'get on t.v.' but 'get out the votes') purpose of being a political party, candidates will be less 'outside' the party platform and more of the people, by the people and for the people.

Rabbi DF Eukel, the radio rabbi hosting Ramble & Rumble with Rabbi, Venue For Vision & Values In Our Communities M-F 6:00-7:30 AM CST on blogtalkradio. EUKEL@EUKEL.us

News2K said...

Thank you for replying to the blog. I have watched both debates/forums that were broadcast on television. There have been no forums or events in my area that I am aware of. My hometown lies between two media markets (Joplin and Springfield) and is at times overlooked.

I am sorry that you feel I imply a sense of arrogance. Certainly, I do not expect every politician to drop what they are doing and speak with me, but rather my point was that if they aren't working for my vote (as someone who regularly votes and is active in civic life) then whose are they seeking?

Regarding the anonymity of the countywide politician who came to my door, I do not feel it is necessary to mention his name and to do so, in my editorial opinion, cheapens and weakens the argument.

I do think we seem to agree on the last two paragraphs of your reply.

Thank you for stopping by the blog. I do appreciate your opinions. While we may not agree, discussion and communication are what set this great nation apart from others where dialogue of this nature is suppressed.