Sound and fury … signifying nothing?
Enough already. It is only June and a good question is whether the weather or political climate will be hotter this summer.
The national media, particularly the cable news companies, are fixated on the presidential election. Like a turned on fire hydrant, we are fed a constant flood of he said — she said.
In Indiana, we will begin to see the millions of dollars of campaign contributions turned into large post card mailings and intrusive TV ads by our two gubernatorial candidates.
In truth, while we do have three branches of government, in most of our lives the legislative has more day-to-day impact.
In fact, an argument can be made that as far as governing is concerned, while policy is proposed by and attributed to the executive branch, it is the legislative branch through its budgetary legislation that actually creates it.
We perceive that presidents and governors are the parents of policy. They are not. They are like the orchestra director who stands in front of the musicians and attempts to organize and influence the performance of the musicians. They are the titular heads of a political organization. The members of Congress and the state legislatures are the real music makers.
While we, as citizens, and as voters, will hopefully support someone for president and governor, we will be inclined to use too much of our attention on those races. If we spent even half as much interest in finding out what a candidate for Congress or the state legislature felt about issues that are important to us, and basing our vocal support and vote on that, we’d be much better off.
A president or governor establishes their goals. They then offer legislation and a budget to the legislative branch that will help them accomplish those goals. At that point, the Congress or legislature takes over. They will politely say thank you for your suggestions and then will craft their own budget that they want to accomplish their own goals.
So, this summer, as we have our body and our emotional temperatures raised by the heat of the weather and the presidential and gubernatorial ads, we can really impact our future by not getting drawn into the bumper sticker camps and instead putting the congressional and legislative candidates on the hot seat by making them clearly tell us what they stand for and holding them responsible for what will become public policy.
In politics, perception is reality. Just as there is a perceived weather heat index, there is also a perceived political reality. If we don’t get caught up in the divisive heat of images, sound bites, well-designed campaign postcards and words that sound impressive but really say little, we can get through the next five months.
Bill Bailey is a former member of Seymour city councilman, mayor of Seymour, state representative and president of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.