By: Steve Trubilla
When the votes are cast, in less than 30 days, politicians will again feel the love, or lack thereof, from the American people. Yes, it is election time again. Are you all excited anticipating the prospects of a better day coming?
Soon there will be a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage was a campaign slogan from 1928. Across the country people were riveted to their radios, fixed on the presidential election between Alfred Smith and Herbert Hoover. Months later the stock market crashed and the radio carried the song, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" Most people that had a car they could not buy gas for it. A chicken sandwich was something dreams were made of.
It is hard to believe the power brokers of the time did not know and see what was coming. Of course they did. They relied on the knowledge, the average voter did not have a clue of who Hoover or Smith were, and would not be willing to make an effort to find out more about them.
It was easy to define both Hoover and Smith with catchy advertising; mostly negative, by dividing people on issues of the time. Examples include prohibition; Smith stood for repeal. Hoover was in the cross-hairs of post reconstruction and Civil Rights. These were target rich issues to divide people.
It was, and is, the ever enduring and effective art of identity politics playing out today. This powerful force denies the individual voter knowledge of what a candidate for office really believes and what his or her capabilities are.
What I will call the propaganda wars feeds apathy. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard, "My vote does not matter." Well, it does. Many elections, particularly when it comes to local ones, are decided with very few votes. In 2016 a Franklin County Commissioners race was decided by 37 votes.
Democracy North Carolina analyzed November 2015 elections and determined that the mayor or a town council member in 69 cities won their election by five or fewer votes.
Elections really do have consequences. You have to wonder how many jobs were impacted because five or fewer people decided their vote did not matter. Did 37 votes decide your property taxes are going up?
Political Parties are agenda driven. My experience is they really do not care about the candidates or the voters. They just want to hold on to power and will say and do whatever it takes to do it.
So then, what is the answer, how do voters really find out where a candidate stands so they can make an informed voting decision without what is really nothing more than noise?
A very wise woman once told a group of people that were gossiping about her, "If you want to know my business, just ask me. If I want you to know it I will tell you, and if I don't I won't". Recently I was talking to another very wise woman, Louisburg resident Miss Judy Fergerson. The conversation turned to the Franklin County sheriff's election. She shared that many people of Franklin County are asking for a town hall style meeting between Kent Winstead and Jerry Jones to allow the two candidates to answer direct questions from citizens. Not pre-approved packaged questions but real questions.
In Franklin County the Sheriff's election is always a big deal. On a scale of 1-10 it is a 10.
I have my choice, but I am not going to endorse either candidate in this column. It would operate to be a free political ad for one at the expense of the other candidate.
The citizens of Franklin County want this town hall meeting and they deserve it. Signs and mailboxes do not answer questions. If our local Republican and Democratic parties really care about what the citizens of Franklin County want, they can make this happen. If they do not, it tells you something about them that should have long ago been realized and accepted.
If either or both of the candidates do not want to do this, then let's hear them say so. This can be very powerful and help with making an informed voting choice.
More often than not, real hard problems are not that hard to solve. If you want to know something about someone do not rely on gossip, just asking them. If they have nothing to hide, chances are they will tell you.