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
— 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.