Tri-City Voice is proud of its role in our communities and firmly believes in the power of the ballot, ensuring continuation of our representative democracy. In that spirit, each candidate for elected office within our area is given an opportunity to present themselves to you, our readers, without cost. Space considerations limit these appeals and should be seen as the beginning of a process rather than full disclosure. This is simply a starting point for voters to select candidates in whom they can place their trust.
Although Tri-City Voice does not endorse or advocate for any particular candidate, many organizations and special interest groups make such decisions and expend financial and personnel resources to influence voters. There is nothing wrong with this as long as sources and motives are clear. In an age of relative online anonymity and financial resources of super PACs that can twist and subvert true intentions, it is incumbent on the electorate to decide by employing a dose of skepticism and realization that politics is a matter of perception.
Does the candidate (or proposition/measure) align with your core beliefs and practices? If you rely on endorsements, what arguments are these people, groups or organizations making to sway your decision? Candidate promises are often phrased to appeal to certain groups but may not be as straightforward as they seem. Embracing or shunning entire categories of the population may seem convincing, but combining an entire group within a single label is simplistic and can give the wrong impression. The result can be stunningly apparent in subsequent months following an election.
So, how can the electorate decide? The question raises a quandary. Candidates often hire “experts” who claim to understand the “hot buttons” of voters including fears and prejudices that can result in victory at the polls. The Machiavellian notion, “the end justifies the means” is often a valued companion of contemporary politics. Although written in 1513, The Prince, a treatise by Italian diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli, demonstrates that little has changed in the political world. In those days, achieving and maintaining power was a deadly game that required cunning, deception and naked aggression. Popes, city-states and sovereign regions battled for supremacy. While some sense of order has emerged from the relative chaos of that time, many of Machiavelli’s words remain as a realpolitik guide for current politicians and caution for voters.
There is truth in Machiavelli’s assertions that skillful use of political power can promote confidence in leadership and sense of purpose even when it cannot satisfy all segments of society. When a question arises that has several valid arguments, someone must decide… a primary function of our elected representatives. We should respect those that use honest and sincere judgement whether in alignment with our personal philosophy or not. The electorate’s opportunity to express approval or rejection lies at the ballot box, not personal attacks. Machiavelli addresses this, “It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles.” Respect for the office is achieved through honorable actions.
The end result of politics in our country is a consequence of the willingness of the electorate to make informed decisions based on their own observations and those of others they trust. Recommendations and endorsements may serve as a guide but ultimately reflect prejudices and motives of those involved in the decision. These may or may not align with each voter, so it is incumbent on each of us to make a personal effort to vote intelligently. Again, Machiavelli has a pertinent thought…
“Because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.”
Tri-City Voice hopes the brief statements by candidates is useful for our readers and represents a first step in supporting our democratic republic as, with the primary election process, we begin what appears to be a tumultuous election year.