By Bill Shaw
I had the opportunity to visit Washington DC a few weeks ago.
For days, my wife, Mary Beth, and I walked through the amazing monuments and museums, as well as touring the White House and the Capitol building.
At the National Archives, my nose was mere inches from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
As my eye followed the bold loops and underlines of the Constitution’s familiar signatures, I could not help but reflect on our nations founders, and think back on their struggles and debate as they strove to define and re-forge their newborn nation.
If they were alive today, I wonder what our founders would think of our bickering national and state political environment today. I think they probably would be pretty upset.
With this year’s election season in full fury, today’s politics have become snide, angry and polarizing. Sadly these days, both civil discourse and the moderate voices in our political parties are seldom heard.
In 1787, our founders permanently expressed in ink and sheepskin what had slowly formed in their hearts, minds and action during the 11 very challenging years before.
This four page document was the legal blueprint and defining principle of our nation, a radical ethos that started with just three very simple words. It wasn’t ‘We the Republicans’ or ‘We the Democrats’ — it wasn’t ‘We the Tea-Partiers’ or ‘We the Public Action Committees’ and especially ‘We the Corporations’ (or their lobbyists). It was ‘We the People’.
Well, next week ‘We the People’ have an opportunity to boldly affirm our nation and our state’s direction. Or, to tweak it, or change it.
It all begins with you, and with your vote.
But before you start filling in the circles on the ballot, please set aside a half hour or so and educate yourself on the people running for office and on the state initiatives. The State of Washington Voter’s Pamphlet is no doubt sitting there on your dining room table or in your in-box. Read it!
Forget the past month’s shrill deluge of campaign ads on television or in your mailbox. Many of them are slickly produced by out of state, ideology-oriented public action committees or quietly funded by large corporations.
I highly doubt those folks are much interested in the well being of your family or neighbors in your community.
As you peruse the Voter’s Phamplet, ask yourself: Who are my candidates? Why are they really running? Is out of a selfless willingness to truly serve the needs of their community or state? Or just another idealogue appointed to carry their party’s banner?
Take a few moments to check out the candidates web sites and see what they are For and what they will do. Not just what or who they are against.
As our state and district Judges are so important in defining our state’s legal system, please also take a good look at the qualifications and backgrounds of the judiciary candidates.
Take some time to explore the ‘Pros and Cons’ of each State Initiative.
Who does it help and why?
Ask yourself: what is the motivation in the initiative? Better government? Sound fiscal policy? Or, mere politics?
Note the names in the small print – both the folks who wrote the initiative, or who are for or against it. That says alot.
When the dust settles on Nov. 3, there will be much to do to continue to rebuild our country, our state and the integrity of our political system.
Whoever’s name or ‘preferred party’ ends up in the win column, I urge our new or renewed representatives to remember that they were sent to Olympia and Washington D.C. to do the ‘People’s Business’. That can only be done by doing two simple things:
1.) Forget the politics of divisiveness – Reach across to the aisle to your political opposites and forge common ground and a common purpose to get things done. True politics is the art of consensus building, and pragmatic compromise does not mean defeat.
2.) Do what is right for our nation, our state and our community, and not just for your ‘party of choice’.
So, please – do yourself and your community a service: when you vote, vote wisely. Your ballot needs to be in the mail by no later than Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Bill Shaw is the publisher of the Snoqualmie Valley Record.