Sorry, Charlie – But Is It Your Own Fault?

Don't complain. Get involved instead.

Bob Houghtaling’s recent op/ed piece on EG Patch (“Sorry Charlie: Maybe it's time to look beyond resumes and good sound bites” - http://bit.ly/K6ovCo) is a largely accurate description of what bothers most of us about the current state of our political leadership. But the things to which he points may be more effect than cause.

I would suggest that the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves (with apologies to Will Shakespeare…).

For all kinds of reasons, individual participation in the political process has been declining for years. Those of us involved with one or another of the parties struggle to convince really good people to run for office. We all struggle to get people to the polls to vote. And the party organizations – doesn’t matter if there are two or two hundred of them - struggle to attract people to get involved with the process and work to get candidates elected.

And perhaps not surprisingly, more people today seem to be sitting around talking about Kim Kardashian or Lindsay Lohan more than they do about Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, for example.

This seems to be as true in East Greenwich as it is in South Providence.

At least partially as a result, smaller and smaller numbers of people – on both/all sides - are determining which candidates we get a chance to vote for.

Many of the problems he points to would disappear if people decided to get and stay more involved. With greater involvement, it’s harder for a small group to control the nominating process. With more people paying attention and taking time to understand the issues, it’s harder for candidates to get away with style over substance. With more people voting, the greater the chance of electing candidates who represent the larger body politic.

So instead of wringing our hands, I would suggest more of us decide to do something about it – and reach out and get involved.

—  Think and talk seriously about the kind of government we really want, and the kind of government we are willing to pay for

—  Get up to speed on the issues – relying on primary sources and making talk radio, newspapers, magazines or television secondary influences

—  Contact the Republicans at goptowncommittee@gmail.com or the Democrats at tplunkett@kprlaw.com; ask them what the local parties are doing, and what you can do to get involved

—   Lastly, make it a habit to vote. Every time. And encourage the rest of your family and your neighbors to do likewise

With apologies for seeming melodramatic, Edmund Burke’s comment makes sense: “All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men remain silent, and do nothing.”

I presume that Burke would have included women, too, if he were writing today instead of 150 years ago. But regardless, standing on the sidelines and complaining about the state of our leaders or politics in general is one of those things too many do over and over, while expecting a different result. 

And, as Bob Houghtaling points out, this is insanity.

Chuck Newton is Chairman of the East Greenwich Republican Town Committee.

Nancy Williams June 04, 2012 at 05:53 PM
It isn't just in EG.....it seems to be everywhere. No one takes time to learn who the candidates are or what they stand for....then they complain about how things are done. If you don't vote, you don't get to talk.
Jean Ann Guliano June 05, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Excellent points by both Chuck and Bob. (Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't add the local Moderate party to Chuck's list - egmoderates@gmail.com). If we asked our candidates (state, local, national) to do as Bob suggested and create something out of duct tape, a hula hoop and a coat hanger, what kind of leaders would we get? More importantly, what is it that we really want?
Wendy Fachon June 05, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Good article. Perhaps some people don't get involved until they truly understand how much the system drains money out of their pockets or their businesses. Perhaps other people throw their hands up at the electoral process, choose a societal problem, and focus their energy directly on that. There are too many reasons/excuses to count. That said, I'd like to point out the Obama campaign banner at the top of the Patch website. I would have thought the Patch would take a non-partisan position. It upsets me that a political campaign (especially a federal campaign) has so much money as to be able to advertise in everybody's home space, while health costs rise in the double digits, more people get squeezed out of their jobs, and the national debt soars out of control. Oh, the power and the money! Regardless of each of us simply showing up to vote, These influences of enormous government, big corporate money, and worldly power stand so far apart from the fair and humble political process and structure our founding fathers established. Please take down that banner. With all due respect, Wendy Fachon
Wendy Fachon June 05, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Oh, it's gone now. Thank you!
Elizabeth McNamara (Editor) June 05, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Wendy, it's not gone. All the ads on the site rotate. The main thing is, however, the Obama banner ads are simply that, ads. Without advertising, Patch won't exist. Naturally, we in EG like local ads and we've had a lot of success with local advertisers, but there are national "ad buys" as well. The Obama ad is one of those.
ELM June 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM
If it was a Republican ad paid for by your superpacs, I'm sure that would have been just fine with you.
Wendy Fachon June 05, 2012 at 11:55 PM
ELM Alas, I understand how advertising works, and I'm not a fan of Republican superpacs either. I can only say the same words for the GOP and wasteful spending, etc. I'm disaffiliated and Independent. With past job experience in various segments of finance, I like to think I'm fairly intelligent, well-informed, and sensible. Sometimes wish I was ignorant and didn't know as much as I know, however, it's more prudent to be "awake" and aware. Will not decide until voting day. Will watch and wait, as much will happen between now and then. MBA


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