It’s Election Time: Do You Care?
There is no escaping it: District 8 is in an election. The candidates are sending out emails, Facebooking and Tweeting. They are showing up in places where they have never been before and saying things they might never have said just a few months ago. The door knocking has started and the grand announcements about who has raised more money and who has the most endorsements have begun.
So, here are some of my common sense guidelines for those of you who would rather have a root canal than think of politics.
Money. When the candidates tell you how much money they have raised, think of it this way: when the media tells how much money a movie grossed in its first weekend, who cares? Does that make it a great movie? No, it makes it a movie on which a lot of other people were willing to spend money. That doesn’t make it a good movie. Think of the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Really?
The City of Phoenix has had councilpersons who have raised plenty of money and been in office for years who just don’t have a clue about how to serve their districts. Money means a candidate is electable not desirable.
Endorsements. Endorsements are like those lines in a movie ad that say “ Margaret Powel of the Eagle Harbor Review says this movie is a “must see.” Or, Mike Denby of the Smoky River Journal says this move is “spectacular.” Who cares? Why should I care what these folks think of the movie? It is fear. I don’t want to spend a lot of money and a good chunk of an afternoon on a movie I don’t like. So, I turn to someone in the “know” and get his advice. The truth is, it is not easy using movie critics. You have to match what they like verses what you like and vice versa.
With political endorsements who is going to take the time to do that? Who follows “endorsers” in that same way? I will tell you honestly, I have in the past endorsed candidates that I wish would have been impeached before the end of their first term. Rather than waste your time asking endorsers their opinions, see if they can’t get you a one on one with the candidate. Otherwise, who cares what they think?
Door knockers. This is often called the “field campaign.” Unless it is the candidate themselves, why would I care what a 19-year-old political wannabee has to say about someone they barely know and about issues they typically don’t understand? To be honest, I love door knockers. I love the fact they are getting civilly engaged at a grass roots level. These are generally sincere folks who someday will be our future leaders. Always be nice to them (offer them water, try to teach them something and be encouraging). But convince me to vote for someone? I don’t think so.
Debates. Debates, unless they are oriented toward civic engagement are pretty much worthless. I have been at debates where it took more than an hour to ask nine questions. Not much of a learning experience.
So here is my boring advice: First, get familiar with the issues that most concern you, and, if you have time, any broader issues for which the candidate might stand. Two, become familiar with the topic of leadership. There are lots of books and articles on this subject. Read what you can, but do at least a little studying. Third, meet the candidate, one on one. This is easier than you think. You may have to get a few of your neighbors together. Mayor Stanton, in his last campaign, was famous for meeting people in very small groups – if you and three neighbors were cooking hot dogs, Stanton would most likely come knocking on your door
Have fun because August will be here before you can say “Martha, who was that nice (fill in the blank)? I think that’s who I’ll vote for.”
Who cares? I hope you do.