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It’s our responsibility to elect leaders who care

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There are certain things that should simply be understood and accepted.

In a Republic, such as the one governing the United States, the people hold supreme power and we elect representatives to actually represent us. This is because 100 million people can’t fit in the same room at the same time.

So ideally, the views and voices of the people should reign supreme through our elected representatives. Unfortunately, this is not an ideal republic. Too many representatives have long forgotten – or maybe it’s more accurate to say abandoned – their sworn duty to represent. Or at least they have abandoned who they are meant to represent in favor of those who take care of them.

Jeff Fortney

Jeff Fortney

The famous quote goes, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Even though that quote is from the 19th century, nothing describes the current state of Arizona’s political system better.

We are electing our representative for the wrong reasons. Habit. Anger. Trying to upset the “other side.” Or worse yet, we don’t vote at all. Too many sit. The ultimate democratic sin.

Then after they are elected, we tune out and let their actions go unchecked. They take full advantage of the system they have helped forge. They attain money. They attain power. They seek power and money instead of listening. They strive to hold onto their positions in lieu of representing the people who got them there. We the people are forgotten. Abandoned. Until election time. Then we return to their collective memories and they use whatever methods necessary to get us to vote for them – again. Nowadays, fear, hate and racism are the most popular messages. If those buttons get pushed enough, they hope to continue their pursuit of more power and money.

This is where we are today. Billionaires and corporations have been given the green light to buy politicians and run rampant over the Arizona people.  For many, this has led to useful anger and taking action. They make phone calls, knock on doors, send postcards, and text. They reach out to others to join. To chip away at the rock of stagnation and corruption. But too many on the other end of that outreach continue to sit. They hang up on the calls. Make up excuses for why they can’t volunteer. Ignore the doorbell. Delete the text. Toss the postcards. Sometimes they are rude. Sometimes they point to the sanctity of their “No Soliciting” sign as if it were a talisman to ward off the approaching evil.  Mostly, they continue to be indifferent. In this age of runaway political madness, they still say, “I don’t do politics.”  Still they ignore the call to do – something.

This may be the most important election in our history. There is a clear choice in this upcoming election. It isn’t as much a Democrat vs. Republican choice as it is the previously mentioned seekers of power vs. the voice and desire of the people. One side has the power. They have the money. They have the commercials that play over and over and over, but they don’t have our ears because they don’t want them.

The other side is listening. They are talking to people. Asking questions and answering our questions. They are attending town halls, house parties, LD meetings and other meetings of concerned citizens. They are taking the citizens’ voices and amplifying them. They actually care about education. And healthcare. And the environment. And women’s rights. And water. And people of all colors. And all religions.

The power the current majority holds has caused them to take certain actions. And these actions are speaking very loudly. Their actions shout, “You don’t matter to us!”  Should the results of this upcoming election change the balance of power, it is on us as citizens to make sure that the new majority does not become the Power-And-Money Party that they hold true to their message and their ideals.

If we want leaders that care, it’s on us to do something about it. When the majority party refuses to discuss the other parties’ bills – not even allow them to be heard, let alone voted on – they are silencing our voices. When the majority party supports corporations, big-money donors and out of state billionaires, they are silencing our voices. And we disappear. We are abandoned.

When we do nothing, we are supporting these actions. When we bicker over petty nonsense, we make their actions more powerful. When we do not unite, we make them stronger. When we pull in different directions, the powerful stay in office.

This is the most important election in our history. You don’t have to take my word for it. Our last president knows it’s true. So do something. Now.

— Jeff Fortney has been teaching special education in Arizona since 2004.

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The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.

One comment

  1. As far back as I can remember, every election has been “the most important election in our history.” I’m sure all the subsequent ones will be, too.

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