The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention. President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”
For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd. Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.
Five state legislators do the perp walk on criminal charges in five weeks, with maybe more on the way.
I always try to look at the bright side. One of these legislators wore a wire for three years and there haven’t been nearly as many arrests or indictments as some might have figured. Another silver lining is that a bunch of the charges really aren’t about corrupting government functions, but about political greed and personal sleaze. So we’ve got all of that going for us. Call me Mr. Sunshine.
There is no quicker way for a county legislator to generate a headline than to accuse the county executive or the county comptroller of not doing his or her job. But what happens when the governmental official who comes under legislative fire is vindicated?
If the accused party is a Republican who is up for re-election this year, such as Comptroller George Maragos, county legislators move on to another target and hope their next round of allegations have merit. After all, if a county governmental agency is doing its job, that’s not news, right?
Written by Robert McMillan Friday, 06 April 2012 00:00
Over the years, I have written a couple of times relating to people complaining about politicians and the performance of government. The other day, I said to my audience, I have two questions. With the first question, I want you to raise your hand if you do not feel government is operating correctly.
Every hand in the audience was raised immediately!
My next question started with a request that no hands should be raised, and I asked the audience to just think about what I have asked. The question was, “Who has attended a Republican or Democratic political event in the last year?”
As I finished the question, several people in the audience squirmed in their seats and some looked at their spouse, speaking softly. Clearly, people complain and do not do anything to correct the complaints.
As I personally reflected on my two questions, I thought about the questions a little deeper than I had in the past. These thoughts were not a part of the discussion at the event. But, the more I thought about correcting what is wrong in our country – no matter what side of the political aisle you sit on – the deeper became my concern as to whether, today, it makes any difference in being a participant.
Do elected officials listen to their local political club? Does even making a political contribution make a difference anymore?
With 24/7 cable news, I wonder if the reporters asking questions have more influence than the average voter – even the voter who is active in the elected official’s own political party?
This column is not to put down participation. I still think that showing up in the right places can make a difference. As a volunteer, a person can get to know the people who do make a difference.
Another way to influence elected officials is through letter writing or emails to the official’s office – not just one letter. It takes many letters, and that is something you can do by organizing your friends, who are in agreement on an issue, to all write or email the elected official. As the letters pile up in an office, believe me, they get attention – particularly if they are all from the same area.
One final point. The number of lobbyists in our state and federal capitals are around your elected officials and their staffs day in and day out. You are not there with the same presence unless you get committed to make a difference. And that takes an effort, which many people are just not ready for at this present time.