Miner Queries: Question . . . Were you too bored to vote?

 Last week another Facebook meme caught my eye. It was a photo of one of my heroes, the late political columnist Molly Ivins, paired with a quote:

“What stuns me most about contemporary politics is not even that the system has been so badly corrupted by money. It is that so few people get the connection between their lives and what the bozos do in Washington and our state capitols. Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don’t much care for.”

As Ivins stated, politics matters. And as the primary season for the 2016 election ramps up, I wonder how voters can ignore the impulse to get involved. Each day seemingly presents a new candidate and a new level of crazy, especially in the Republican field. 

The weekend of July 18, that crazy included Donald Trump in Iowa slamming Arizona Sen. John McCain, a former P.O.W., by saying McCain “is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” 

While I was contemplating this development, I came across another blog post about voter turnout in 2014. This one from the Washington Post’s web site highlighted why voters chose not to vote in the latest mid-term election. 

“Being ‘too busy’ tops the list of excuses reasons, followed by general lack of interest, illness, being out of town, simply forgetting and disliking the candidates or the issues,” wrote Scott Clement, citing the U.S. Elections Project.

Meanwhile, voters wonder why they get so little help from officials in elected office. Iowa’s schools and mental health system are a case in point. When voters won’t pay attention to politics and government, officials follow their own agenda.

And when voters are uninformed about policy and events, they can be manipulated to support policies that do nothing to help them. 

I’ve seen this in action. As a voter, I’ve attended a number of elected officials’ briefings, though not nearly enough. I’ve written before about Sen. Grassley’s misleading statements about the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, during town hall meetings, fanning fears instead of providing information about how the new regulations work.

Often, until it’s apparent other political viewpoints are present, the messages presented may not be strictly factual. It takes people willing to speak up and ask pointed questions to get more accurate information from our officials. 

I’ve also observed that those who show up for these meetings are mostly partisans. In fact, after attending one of Sen. Grassley’s town halls a couple of years ago, one of my Democratic friends overheard another attendee ask, “What were they doing here?” Apparently the questioner was under the impression he was at a party, rather than a public event.

Therein lies a problem -- because these officials represent ALL of us. 

So, it’s up to voters to share information and initiate real dialog. It’s up to us to hold our officials accountable. ‘Cause this is not a sitcom you can turn off.

Cherie Miner is a local parent, community volunteer, freelance writer and artist. In a former life, she was a corporate writer and public relations professional. Contact her at news@redoakexpress.com or on Facebook.

The Red Oak Express

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