Guest Column: Voting Wish List

Guest Column: Voting Wish List

By Dawn Goldsmith

In the afterglow of the November 2002 election, the Republicans bask in their majority and the president’s undercover jettison of SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt. The Democrats gratefully accept Congressman Gephardt’s offer to shoulder the blame for losing the majority on both houses, and I turn to writing an election wish list.

1. I wish for honesty. That’s my first request and most desperate plea. I long to trust information and not view media coverage and candidates’ statements with skepticism or cynicism. I tire of wondering: “Why did they say that?” “What does that really mean?” “What’s their agenda?” I believe every assertion should come with attribution—an attribution I can check. I miss news media that investigate and report the news, and I tire of news celebrities who entertain.

2. I wish for more organizations such as the League of Women Voters who work to offer unbiased, well-researched information, facts and biographies, pieced together from a variety of reliable and primary sources. I regret never offering to help them in their quest.

3. I wish to get involved. I contacted the local Democratic headquarters before the primary. The initial response was “we’ll get back to you.” No one did. I let it go. I wish the political parties encouraged participation. Voting is not enough. And, yes, I should contact the League.

4. I wish candidates were viewed like job applicants. With résumé, references, and a list of accomplishments in hand, they must demonstrate the skills and training and the passion and concern that fill the needs for the position. I wish each candidate received equal scrutiny and consideration, regardless of party affiliation. But mostly I’m tired of candidates running because they are more photogenic, have a brighter smile, wear the right color tie or are a size five and buff.

5. I wish the dealmaking would stop, and all people would be considered when forming government plans. It’s time to create an equitable playing field, no more lobbies, no more powerful favorites.

6. I wish for integrity in the process, not just an artificial politically correct stance. I’m tired of melodrama, misinformation and mud slinging. I long for the facts, the issues and solutions, not just personal attacks and finger pointing.

7. I wish everyone understood the importance of voting. Recently someone explained: “Voting is like recycling. If I chose not to recycle, it’s no big deal. But, if everyone chooses not to recycle, then we’re in trouble.” Voting is also about having your say. I sometimes vote for a candidate I truly believe in. And sometimes I vote against a candidate, as when I voted against Congressman Don Manzullo. He easily swept the competition. Hopefully my vote against him demonstrated a need to rededicate himself to his constituents.

8. I wish the government would make a legitimate effort to control campaign spending, not just sign a bill into law and leave it to languish without funds or teeth to force change. I wish that every voter would be treated equally and that every vote count.

9. I wish I had thanked the people at the polls for devoting their time on Election Day and when they engaged in training. Democracy would still be a dream without this army of workers, all dedicated and friendly. I wish we supported their efforts with the funds to reform the election process. The bill was signed into law, but underfunded to the point of absurdity.

10. I wish I wasn’t such a lazy voter. I should demand more respect for my constitutional rights of representation and the election process.

The words of Tony Benn, British Labour Party Member of Parliament ring like a call to arms: “If democracy is ever to be threatened, it will not be by revolutionary groups burning government offices and occupying the broadcasting and newspaper offices of the world. It will come from disenchantment, cynicism and despair caused by the realization that the New World Order means we are all to be managed and not represented.”

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