June 4, 2014
Comments Off on Day 2 Reflection: Abby
The discussion with our panelists today was enlightening. Their outlook as politicians, unhindered by the usual candidate-to-constituent relationship was uniquely valuable. This experience, great in its own right was enriched because the panelists didn’t see it as a campaign stop. In this post I’m going to share a couple things I found interesting and jotted down:
In the beginning: All of the panelists were inspired to run. They felt they could best represent an underrepresented group of constituents within their community and rose to their civic duty to do so. No matter how they came to this conclusion be it Stacey Newman’s incredible battle against gun violence, Tracey McCreery’s disillusionment with her party establishment, or Reginald Finney’s recognition of the need for minority representation in a community that has very diverse underrepresented constituents, or Linda Rallo who simply wanted to represent residents in office. They all saw the need for reform in government and instead of apathy they turned to action and took on the responsibility of representing their communities.
“Staff and mailings”: When the panelists responded to how they ran campaigns I was surprised both by the what they spent money on and how they conducted their campaigns. It reminded me of the nostalgia we have for the past and politics before it “got messy.” Yesterday, when polling I noticed many said if they could reform campaigns they would limit the money available to candidates and as one man put it: “make it like the old days when candidates had to get to know people.” The grassroots door knocking, calling constituents, GOTV campaigns, and as Stacey Newman said, money spent on “staff and mailings” all seem like ways to run a campaign within the grassroots model that people crave. So why is there still apathy surrounding local elections? Realization that politics doesn’t have to be all mudslinging on the local level makes low voter turnout all the more depressing.
“Politically Homeless”: All the panelists were very moderate. In that they were rarities. As partisanship increases the people that are in the middle, able to compromise with the other party and probably most able to align their political beliefs with all of their constituents once in office, are overlooked so many times. Being a member of a party no longer simply means you have a base on which to place your platform, it divides and decides elections. Linda Rallo, as a republican pro choice woman knows her moderate views mean career suicide. But don’t people want change in government? Are party politics really helping constituents elect the right people to represent the middle? The Political Party Power Structure is immense which is unfortunate and often easy to overlook. I think it comes down to capitalizing on anger to win, which wouldn’t be necessary if voter turnout was higher. Continuing toward polarization and partisanship will only deadlock government more. If Congress on any level thinks that compromise isn’t what this country was founded on they need a history lesson.
Endorsements on the job: I was interested that many said that endorsements were able to bring a community to the table, get people involved. But as Tracey McCreery said, that doesn’t mean all of the bills the elected official proposes are linked to endorsements. Once you’re in office there is a shift, now you represent not only the people that voted for you but all the people who aren’t being represented or in the case of Charlie Dooley, everyone in St. Louis County.
Term limits: the panelists also touched on the term limits and how they cannot get everything done in 2 years with the pressure of reelection looming. If politicians were liberated from the pressure of reelection they vote differently, they vote with their hearts and consciences. So what if there were longer term limits in the MO House for example. Instead of two years if they had 6 like the Missouri Senate how would that differ, would that open the door for compromise even in a predominantly republican environment.
Women and politics #itscomplicated: Women are underrepresented as seat holders on government and make up 51% of the state. They are also underrepresented in campaign donations but in political strategy they have to be considered by politicians because women have utilized the power to vote. Yay! I think. Depends on what that Strategy entails…
I found this experience invaluable it raised so many core issues with running a campaign and being in government. From the duality of the campaign where people are pushed to the extremes and mudslinging to actually working in government and representing not just your supporters but 100% of the people even if 51% voted for you, to how running a campaign can be awkward and invigorating there was so much valuable information imbedded in the panelists experiences that I know I will reference for years to come!
And finally: experiences motivate
Sounds like it’s time to experience