Civics 101 — A Guide for voting locally and being heard

It’s approaching that time of year — the time when every uninformed yahoo thinks they understand how government works and wishes to indoctrinate their coworkers and friends into thinking they are the font of all knowledge and that following them is a defiant act of wisdom.

If you believe that knowledge is power, here’s a little info that will help you to separate out the yahoos from those who are informed.

1) An Aldermanic seat is a non-partisan seat in Wisconsin — so is a County Supervisor seat.

2) the labels people attach to themselves today mean nothing if you have a historical understanding of what those labels used to mean. Today’s “conservatives” used to be called fascists. Todays mainstream “liberal” is closer to what a conservative used to be. What people believe is a socialist used to be called a liberal.

3) If you self-label yourself a “big ideas” person and don’t know the differences between city, county, state or federal responsibilities, don’t expect the person who you’re about to vote for in a local election to accomplish those all of those things. A candidate does not have the responsibility to educate the public on basic civics.

4) If you believe people go into politics to “destroy the city”, maybe it’s time that you run and realize how much time, work, money and sacrifice actually goes into a local campaign. It’s an educational experience. Being in office requires compromise and diplomacy.

5) If you grouse on an internet group, but don’t read the campaign fliers that are sent to you or hand delivered, and have never even attended a candidate forum, you’re unqualified to sit in judgement of others. If you only read the campaign fliers from candidates who send you the most, you are voting for the wealthiest or the most well financed. Don’t confuse those with money with those who will represent your interests.

6) If you don’t vote, then you don’t count. If you didn’t vote in the last local election, you probably won’t be getting campaign fliers. Don’t be afraid to call a candidate to ask them questions. If a candidate isn’t even willing to put up a website to let the public know who they are, they probably don’t want you to know what they stand for.

7) If you talk about how awesome you think someone is doing in their current position, expect to be attached to that person ideologically. You can’t say “Politician X is doing a great job” and expect people to think you will be any different from that politician.

8) An experienced politician isn’t necessarily a bad politician. An elected official is chosen by the people because they promoted themselves as someone who would give the public a voice. An experienced politician knows how to get things done and understands the process of government. Experience shouldn’t be confused with incumbency. A lazy incumbent will not be successful in achieving almost any goals.

9) If a candidate says to another candidate, “you’re great” or “me too”, then ask yourself why you wouldn’t vote for the original person who did put ideas forward as opposed to the person who just wants to agree with others. A leader advocates for bold ideas. A follower looks to others for ideas.



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