This I Believe

Mona - Ellicott City, Maryland
Entered on November 1, 2006

During the Clinton years, debate swirled around whether or not character mattered in evaluating elected officials. Now, during the Bush years, it’s clear that nothing could matter more.

I’m an innocuous voter, no big money, power, or title. I’ve been able to see many of our local, state, and national leaders from the perspective of an average Jane, and I can tell you that too often these candidates have enjoyed celebrity status that makes them want to distance themselves from average voters. Voters have been guilty of indulging these celebrities by electing them based on big party affiliation, family connections, and large campaign bank accounts.

Because of my experiences meeting these candidates, I’m becoming acutely aware that the ability to handle power responsibly is monumentally important in evaluating potential elected leaders. Trustworthiness is earned through behavior and actions, not rhetoric. And for those who occupied an elected office prior, the actual documented voting record that they have accumulated is critical but so often misrepresented. I check sites like Public Citizen in order to determine exactly how someone voted and who is lying about it. Lying is a deal-breaker. Campaign season promises from incumbents do not represent a plan, but instead represent disrespect for the intelligence of voters, and dishonesty, because they would’ve done these things already if they ever intended to follow through.

Candidate integrity, intelligence, energy, and experience combine to compose a candidate to support. We have such candidates, I’ve met them and I’ve supported them. However, their voices are easily overpowered by big money campaigns and drowned out by media sources that are more apathetic to Independent candidates than even the most detached voter.

But individual citizen-voters like me are doing something remarkable. I have company, now. A growing number of voter registrants, without sales campaign, or big party endorsement, exclusive political culture, celebrity pioneer, or press coverage are individually bucking predictable and prescribed voter actions. Voters are pioneering a registration change by deciding to register outside of the two major parties, each voter on their own. Nothing could be more grassroots than this astounding change, this utterly and patently American behavior.

Judging by the determination and solid numbers behind this movement, I’d like to see voters wrest control of government from the big money campaign contributors and political parties in favor of honest and open representation for individuals. I’d really like to be alive when I can help vote to take back the decision-making positions from special interest organizations that support interminable incumbencies through massive sales campaigns that contain little if any truth.

Based on this growing trend which currently comprises hundreds of thousands in Maryland and as much as 89% of new registrants in other states, I plan to help citizens decide that the government no longer works for corporations and limited partnerships, but for individuals. As an average, non-celebrity citizen, I want to help determine who is placed in office, so that we can obtain office holders who will be accountable to citizens, irrespective of party, pedigree, prestige, and power.