Last Thursday night I decided at the last minute to attend the political forum at the high school auditorium. Frankly, I’d been thinking about it all week and couldn’t make up my mind. Far too often politicians tell you exactly what they think you want to hear, but as soon as they get in office, they forget everything they promised you. They can’t even remember your name. I knew that if that scenario were planned for the evening, I’d do better to stay home and read Margaret Atwood. At least I’d be entertained. However, since I haven’t yet completely made up my mind about which candidates to vote for, I drove off to town. Maybe I’d learn something to help me decide about those last couple of offices.
When I climbed out of my car, I noticed that many other citizens had opted to come out, too. We were all there for a common goal. As voters, our jobs are to find the most qualified candidates to run this county in the most efficient ways possible. We must take this voting responsibility seriously. I was there to listen and learn, so I settled into the comfortable cushions of the auditorium, and as I did I thought of one of the most efficient and hard-working politicians I’ve ever known. He was honorable and diligent, and in large part responsible for building the very auditorium we sat in. I’ve never yet known a politician more interested in serving his constituents than the late H.F. Johnson, Jr. was. Every thing Mr. Johnson did in office, he did for the children of this county. If we could only put persons of such excellence in each office, Appling County would improve immediately and immensely.
The Heritage Center sponsored this well-organized forum. Each candidate spoke for about 4 minutes or less, and once they all finished, a question-and-answer session followed. The candidates ranged from young to mature, from well-educated to less-educated and the many other levels in between. All seemed to be sincere in their desire to serve their fellow citizens. All seemed to be genuinely good people.
I heard many of the promises that we’ve been waiting for, things like “being financially efficient,” “putting ROTC and art back into the schools,” “being proactive,” and “remembering the people who put them in the office in the first place.” The expression “public servant” floated around the stage like a ghost. The speeches sounded good; I was impressed. We are always impressed with the people who agree with us though. They are, after all, the smartest people in the world.
The number of people in the audience who sat and played with their cell phones during the whole presentation appalled me. How can one pay attention to what’s being said and pay attention to that toy in his hand at the same time? When I saw at least two people near me playing games on their phones, I did wonder why they’d bothered to come. They could have stayed home and played “Angry Birds” on their comfortable couches. The lights of cell phones dotted the entire auditorium during the whole forum.
The candidates are still out politicking and will be for a few weeks now, depending on how the July 31st primary turns out. They’ve pretty much done their pre-election jobs; now it’s our turn. We need to pick up those infernal cell phones that we’re all so addicted to and call the candidates we haven’t talked to yet and ask a few questions. Educated voters select the best candidates. I’m not talking about the voters who have the most schooling; I’m talking about the ones who’ve taken the time to investigate the candidates. We are responsible for researching them and deciding which ones can best do for this county what we want done. An excellent resource is The Baxley News-Banner website where the candidates have posted videos.
Finally, we need to let nothing interfere with our voting. Absentee ballots are available for those who’ll be out of town, but don’t let the deadline slip up. If we really want a government by the people, then we must do our part. Vote for the candidates of your choice, but, for everybody’s sake, vote. Now is the time to educate ourselves!