Let me ask you a question: What’s the biggest political problem facing America today?
If you ask a right-winger, it may be Benghazi, the national debt, Fast and Furious, “Obamacare,” the Keystone Pipeline extension or Cliven Bundy’s cows.
If you ask a progressive, it may be that the National Security Agency is spying on American citizens, the VA hospitals are waiting people to death, the IRS is letting political groups masquerade as educational organizations and claim nonprofit status, fringe right politicians causing congressional gridlock for years instead of working on solving America’s problems, or the fact that the wealthy now have unprecedented access and control over our elected representatives at all levels of government.
We all have our favorite transitory gripes, changing over time, just as the corporate media flits like a fickle bee, from one problem to another, seeking sweeter ratings. Maybe the Daily Republic would consider making this a question of the week, just before the general elections in November: “What’s the most serious political problem in America today?”
If I were to answer that question today, I’d say, “The Four Horsemen of the voting apocalypse: Republicans locking-down their hold on the House of Representatives by gerrymandering their districts, limiting access to eligible voters, having the wealthy own our media and elections, and the general political malaise that permeates all strata of our society.” We have discussed the first three horsemen many times here before.
Raise your hands if you intend to vote in the June 3 primary elections. I’m guessing that out of about 200,000 registered voters in Solano County, only 60,000 of you, less than one third, would raise your hands and vote June 3. Please, prove me wrong.
I get it. I watch the same news and political entertainment TV shows that you do. I understand why you may not be motivated to go to vote. You might think: “With gerrymandering, increasing voting constraints and the media and politicians owned by the wealthy, what’s the use in voting?”
Well, voting is the only tool we have in the box that we can use to fix those other problems. Fortunately, it is the perfect tool.
As we approach our primary elections here in Fairfield, I would like to take time to thank all of our homegrown candidates, from every party, for having the courage to put themselves “out there” for us voters to stare at, pick apart and criticize endlessly.
These days, it’s really not about the issues as much as the sparkling personalities, well-groomed hair and the “gotchas.” I’ve often thought that I would be extremely likely to vote for a candidate who had the courage to say: “Say any horrible thing you want about me and I’ll agree upfront that it’s true, just so we can move on and discuss the real issues.” A bold statement like that, if followed by a successful vote, could change American politics for the better, forever.
Now, at the unofficial beginning of summer, when most of us normals are caught up in our endless activities of daily living, feeling numbified by the pointless political rhetoric spewing constantly from every communication medium, and thinking politicians are strange visitors from another planet, you local candidates are right here, up close and personal, shaking our hands, reminding us that politicians actually start out as real people, and that all politics is local.
While I may not agree with any of the words coming out of your mouth, I do sincerely thank all of you for your service to our country. I honor you, and our great nation, by voting.
Mike Kirchubel grew up in Fairfield and is the author of “Vile Acts of Evil – Banking in America.” He can be reached at [email protected]