Meet John Doe: Improve Congress by electing better local candidates

By Paul Gorski

This article is in response to Nancy Churchill’s article, “Agitate, America!: ‘The people alone’” from the May 29-June 4, 2013, issue.

Churchill states, “The framers intended our representative government to be ‘dependent upon the people alone,’ but instead it has been corrupted to the point it is ‘dependent upon the wealthy alone.’” While money does influence elections, we can’t blame money alone for the quality of our elected members of Congress.

Most of our congressional representatives and senators started off as local politicians. They were elected as aldermen, council members or other board members. From there, they’ve progressed through the ranks to state office, then off to Congress.

All along, the voters in those districts had a choice, either to vote for or against this potential congressman or senator, or run themselves. However, low voter turnout for local races puts election results in the hands of just a few motivated voters. So, just a handful of local voters help determine who might become be a senator.

I’m not saying I’m happy with how money influences elections; I’m not. I still can’t figure how our conservative Supreme Court ruled corporations have the same rights as people — no, more rights than individuals, when influencing elections with big dollars.

Our founding fathers were fearful of anything “big,” hence the initial focus on state and individual rights. I don’t think the founding fathers would agree that a multi-national corporation, whose executive board may have interests that conflict with our national goals, would be allowed free rein in advocating for or against our political leadership, especially on the national level.

That said, we could head off some of these less-than-ethical members of Congress by voting in local elections. Get to know your candidates, talk to them. Find out what makes them tick. Or, run yourself.

Sounds like a lot of work. No, not really. It is easier to call or meet a local candidate than fight Congress. If your local candidate doesn’t want to meet you, check that person off your list. Given the choice, I’d rather send someone to Congress whom I had some prior experience with, rather than a total stranger.

You might be thinking, “I’d like to run for office, but it costs too much money.” Yes, it can be costly, but doesn’t have to be at the beginning. I’ve run all my races on shoestring budgets, nearly won a countywide race, too. That loss was less because of money than it was lack of a strong support team. So, with planning, a little money, and a lot of face time with voters, you, too, can run for local office.

Don’t rely on Congress to self-regulate itself — that won’t happen. Our government is “dependent upon the people alone,” with the emphasis on “people” taking an active part in elections and communicating with elected officials. Plant the seeds for a great crop of senators and representatives by voting in local elections every opportunity you get.

Paul Gorski ( is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.

From the June 5-11, 2013, issue

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