By Tony Farkas
The election has come and gone, the ballots for the most part counted, and lo and behold, democracy still is intact, and there’s not pitched battles in the streets.
In this area, the voter turnout was on par with presidential elections. Statistics show that on average, turnout in presidential elections hovers around 50 percent; in midterms, such as what we just went through, typically it’s about 40 percent.
In our area, though, here are the numbers, courtesy of the Texas Secretary of State’s Office: Houston County, 53.48 percent; Polk County, 39.93; San Jacinto County, 48.14; Trinity County, 45.35; and Tyler County, 50.1. (Ahem, Polk folk, we need to see some improvement here. Come to the office.)
A cynical person such as I would credit big numbers with big issues, particularly the rotten state of our economy, head-scratching foreign policy, and party and personal division throughout the country on par with tribal hatred.
I prefer to believe that the populace is rising up and taking notice of the sorry state of affairs we’re in, and if that’s the case, to quote Initech Divisional Director Bill Lumbergh, that would be great.
It would be par for the course to sit back and watch the mayhem continue, but I would say nay nay, and exhort you to take your involvement to the next level. It’s one thing to put someone in a position, it’s quite another to, as an old boss of mine used to say, inspect what you expect.
It’s not a stretch to say that your elected official, whether you voted for them or not, works for you. The constituency puts that person in place; the office and salaries are funded by tax dollars, and that is pretty much the definition of an employer/employee dynamic.
What that means is that now that whoever is in office, they weren’t granted carte blanche with an unlimited credit card and no oversight.
The new or re-elected representatives, judges, commissioners, etc., need oversight, so come Jan. 1, or 21, whichever is the start of the new regime, become involved.
Every elected official has a way to be contacted, and in most cases multiple ways. If you feel your political person is straying from the path, remind them. Use phones, email, snail mail, semaphore, smoke signals or telegraphs.
Subscribe to any and all email lists from your politicians so you can keep up with the day-to-day shenanigans. All Polk County Publishing newspapers print contact numbers of elected officials for convenience.
If the political entity is local, then attend meetings. Go to the school boards, the city councils, the county commissioner’s courts and become familiar with the issues and the processes.
Attend as many town hall meetings as you can, because you’ll get useful information. Join a political party, and help provide everyone with information. If you’re feeling saucy, run for office yourself and learn how the sausage is made.
Fixing voter apathy is one thing, but fixing issues with politicians that tend toward megalomania is quite a different critter altogether. But as long as we stay vigilant, and continue our involvement in our own destiny, we’ll be a much better country for it.