Whether it’s federal health care reform or expanding a state sales tax or building a county jail, all tiers of government produce issues that ignite a measure of public resentment. Always have, always will.
Of late, however, the anger seems particularly intense – and sometimes disconnected from reason. As in the increasingly familiar call to cast out all incumbents, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, and no matter who their opponents are.
That kind of thinking is both politically mindless and intellectually lazy. It’s a weak excuse for neglecting the civic homework that goes with being an engaged citizen in a democratic system.
For responsible voters in Washington state, this is a good time to reflect on the demands facing them. Next week is when candidates for local, state and federal offices formally file for the ballot.
Of course the most serious campaigns have been active for weeks. You’ve seen their signs, read their mailings, received their Facebook invitations or maybe even shaken their hands during a doorbelling encounter.
Yet the Aug. 17 primary election is still 12 weeks away, and the Nov. 2 general election another 11 weeks beyond that. For those who understand and appreciate their role in a representative government, there’s time to get acquainted with the choices and cast informed ballots this summer and fall.
And by the end of next week, all the candidates will be known and the number of mailings, websites, news accounts and personal appearances will expand.
Discerning voters will study those sources of information. They’ll push candidates and their supporters for details about how government policy makers should handle the severe problems arising from a troubled economy. They’ll weigh the trade-offs.
They’ll consider the issues that the candidates raise, but they’ll raise their own as well and expect responses.
Ultimately, they’ll make personal decisions that reflect their values.
There are a couple of things they won’t do. They won’t wait until their ballot arrives in the mail to begin wrestling with their decisions.
And they won’t heed that simplistic nonsense about just voting against all the incumbents.