By Samir Shukla
I often wonder what drives people to run for political office. Some are idealistic, some are seeking power, some like the notoriety, while some genuinely want to help make a difference in people’s lives and help guide the direction of the country.
People running for office can range from naively honest to pathological liars, with each candidate stacked somewhere in between those bookends. Extra thick skin is requisite for anyone even thinking about running for office. One thing is for sure. Many more good people would seek office via elections if the endeavor had not become so degrading.
The negativity and the character destroying nature of campaigning is a travesty that keeps some genuinely talented and worthy people from going through the process to get elected. Every detail of their lives, whether recent or something they said 30 years earlier, becomes fodder for their opponents. The incessant negative ads on TV numb people to the real work involved behind running a campaign while swatting aside reasonable discussions of policies and issues.
Professional political operatives seemingly exist more to destroy an opponent’s reputation, rather than help their own clients. Politics has always been a dirty business; it has gotten dirtier with the crass amplification of social media and 24-hour news cycles.
But still, politicking perseveres, folks throw their selves into candidacy, and every couple of years the political makeup of the country shifts.
This year’s marching orders are in place. All the primaries have wrapped. October is going to see a dizzying amount of politicking from candidates running for office and vying for voters’ attention. Misinformation and disinformation will float through the air, and voters will have to decide worthiness of candidates.
The next few weeks and Election Day will decide the power structure in the House and Senate, along with myriad state, local and regional offices. Of course behind all these maneuverings is the invisible puppeteering and positioning of the presidential election which is two years from now.
The political parties hone their crafts for the next cycle of power, but there’s only one main power leading up to election day, that is the power of the voter.
The real power, when exercised, is with voters, who in turn can make their preferences known by electing candidates to their offices. If anyone thinks a single vote is irrelevant, just look at all the close races over the past few decades and realize that even one single vote matters. A lot. In the corridors of power, compromise and deal making take a backseat or often are tossed out the window, but voters can let their opinions be known via the ballot box.
Many states have early voting, absentee voting, and other options to cast a ballot. So there really is no excuse to not vote unless you simply don’t care.
Among many other sources, Ballotpedia.org is a wonderful, non-partisan information site. You can enter your state in the search box and much useful information will be availed. Other very useful sites are Politifact.com and Factcheck.org, which check the truth or false levels of statements made by candidates, politicians, and political ads.
Election days of the past have shifted the country’s gears, realigned social and cultural ethos, and caused changes in laws and regulations.
November 8, 2022 is the next day when the country shifts gears again.
Voters, the power to help affect changes you wish to occur is in your hands.