Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
A Libertarian Website - Gadfly 55
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for August 10, 2000

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

Voting was a real adventure Tuesday morning. As I cleared the fallen tree limbs from my lane to head for the polling place, I wondered again why so few people vote. Generally, the problem is ascribed to voter apathy, assuming that voters see no real differences among the candidates so they donít care who gets in. Some ascribe low turnout to voter ignorance, saying they donít know enough about the candidates. I think both of these causes are related, especially in local races; even those of us who vote in every election are often hard-pressed to make an intelligent choice of which ballot to ask for, let alone whoís the best candidate in a three-way race.

From reading ads and media interviews, it would seem that the top qualification for county office is the number of generations the candidateís family has lived here. After that come church, family and clubs, then maybe appropriate experience. While I donít deny that these are valid to some extent, Iíd like to see more meat.

The candidates donít volunteer, nor are they asked in public forum, their position on specific important issues. For example, how does a candidate for county commission stand on county-wide zoning? How about a position on the jail problem - raise taxes to build a new jail or contract the prisoners out to the new private facility near Holden? Legislative candidates could be asked their position on many issues, such as disposition of the tobacco settlement money, concealed carry, school vouchers, abortion, evolution (oops- thatís just in Kansas), allowing counties to adopt building codes, and many more.

While I believe that contribution limits infringe on free speech and actually help protect incumbents, Iíd still like to know where the candidatesí money comes from and how theyíre spending it Ė without spending an hour or two down in the Registrarís office reading the reports myself. Thatís what reporters are for. Iíd like to see a list of planned candidate appearances, so I can see, hear and question them myself. Thatís what local community calendars are for. Iíd like to see other peopleís opinions on candidate qualifications and ballot issues. Thatís what letters to the editor are for (and some papers really do print letters, if anyone actually sends one in).

At one time, the Press in this country was fiercely partisan. There was no pretense of Ďfairness,í but at least the voters were kept well, if not always accurately, informed. Sometimes I wonder if we might be better off if those standards were to return.

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