To the Editor:
For your readers who are actually reading this, I am likely "preaching to the choir." But on the chance that anyone else may be listening, here goes: It is frightening how many of us today have closed ourselves off from the so-vital process of learning about candidates for office and making our voting selections based on actual information (as opposed to sound bites and attack ads) and/or not voting at all.
As I campaign for Athens County commissioner, I am too frequently asked if I am running against Commissioner Larry Payne. (I am not. I am running for the seat currently held by Commissioner Mark Sullivan, who was defeated in the May primary election.) Or I am asked if I will be a write-in on the fall ballot. (I will not, as I needed 50 votes to earn a spot on the fall ballot and received almost five times that many).
In the May issue of AARP's Bulletin, retired Army officer and Boston University professor Andrew Bacevich is quoted: "Yesterday's civic obligations have become today's civic options." And Editor Jim Toedtman adds, "We have become casual citizens, (even though) we have never had easier access to more information."
Sure, it is OK to close yourself off from the 140-character spin of tweets and the inanity of every other commercial attack ads; those are targeted at the weak-minded and those who don't pay attention. But as Tipp O'Neil is famously quoted, "All politics is local," and we need to stop being distracted by the presidential horse-race and "the issue of the week" and start attending to local and state races and issues and the candidates for U.S. House and Senate. The longer we refuse to exercise our right to be alert (and even, perhaps, involved!) the greater grows the chance that the continuation of those rights will be endangered by our inattention.
As Editor Toedtman notes in ending his article, "We must look beyond our comfort zone (and) study the issues… with fresh eyes and new energy. Fight the obstacles." For our own good and the good of our country, we must abandon civic options and return to the era of civic obligations.