“Minorities” usually complain about “inadequate” representation. Our country’s political processes were designed for “majority” rule, though. Many suburban communities have seen political power change abruptly after construction of new housing developments. The former leadership group is infuriated to be outnumbered, but, too bad, majority rules. Large population shifts create new “majorities.” The results of redistricting due to the 2000 census may be interesting.
Just being in a “majority,” though, doesn’t guarantee receipt of political power. The “silent majority” exercises virtually no power, except by allowing “activists” to rule. Politicians often depend on voter apathy, illustrated by low voter turnouts, to stay in control. Those politicians’ greatest fear is that everybody will vote.
How can a “majority” lose an election?
Choose candidates foolishly. Are these people our “best” and our “brightest?” Character matters. William Kennedy Smith recently was persuaded not to run for congress when his trial on a rape charge several years ago again received media attention. We desperately need to send messages to our children that juvenile delinquency is not part of an easy path to successes in adulthood. The “majority” is not impressed. Majority rules?
Divide and be conquered. When a group with 40% of the population unites around one candidate and the other 60% spread their votes among several, the winner of a “plurality” rules. Mayor Washington won his primary election for mayor with this strategy. Do you suppose Mayor Daley might have to employ the same strategy for his next election? Majority rules?
Do it yourself. This is the equivalent of violating the Biblical admonition against “hiding your light under a bushel.” Without seeking help and supporters, a candidate might be like the proverbial tree falling in the wilderness with no one there to hear. Did it make a sound? Majority rules?
Choose your allies foolishly. When taking positions on issues, pay attention to who else agrees with you. The two most notable groups favoring retention of Prohibition in the 1930’s were the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and “organized crime.” What’s wrong with this picture? Politics sometimes makes strange bedfellows (???). Majority rules?
Ignore the “king-makers.” Politicians are representatives. Whose interests do they really represent, though? Seldom do we see the real opinion leaders appearing as candidates. Who do they support, and why? Majority rules?
Just raise large amounts of money. Some say, “We have the best government money can buy.” “Campaigns are expensive,” also say the “experts.” Do we ever ask questions about where the money goes? Goods and services are being purchased, e.g., campaign advisors, media, printing, etc. Are they from local sources? Why should we contribute money to be “exported?” After the election, to whom are we in debt? Majority rules?
Bring in the “carpetbaggers.” Do we not have local talent to do the job? Do we not invite charges of incompetence by importing outsiders to work on political campaigns? Local people should support local campaigns. Majority rules?
Let your supporters stay at home. The only votes that count are the ones that are cast. Majority rules?
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Some good questions to ask any candidate for a political office:
- How will the candidate be accessible before (and after) the election?
- How are constituents being involved in the campaign?
- Who are the candidates key advisors during the campaign?
- What are the characteristics of people who will be employed in key advisory positions after election?
- For what does the candidate expect to be accountable after election?
Preserve your right to criticize. Participate and vote!