By MATTHEW NASH
The first Tuesday following the first Monday in the month of May in the state of Indiana means that it is election time. Primary elections are next week and we will pick the people who we will choose in the general election in November. Locally, that usually means a barrage of yard signs and junk mail from everyone who is seeking public office. This year has been fairly quiet with very few hotly contested races locally. It kind of makes me worry when most of the yard signs I have seen have been for the position of Floyd County coroner.
Usually in a presidential election year there is a little more enthusiasm which always boggles my mind because of the effects that local leaders have on our daily lives. You may blame the price of gas on the policy of whoever is in the White House, but they have very little to do with it. When it comes down to whether our trash gets picked up or our streets are clean and the police and fire departments have the tools they need to protect us, local elections are far more important yet barely anyone takes the time to vote.
In 2008 the primary election was an exciting time in Indiana. For the first time since I started voting, the Democratic presidential primaries had not yet produced a clear candidate and the citizens of Indiana had a voice in who would ultimately be the choice. This forced the candidates to actively campaign in our state and even visit our community. I was able to see both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama speak to crowds in New Albany.
A couple of months ago it looked like we may have a chance to see the same thing on the Republican side. Now all of the challengers have stepped aside so Mitt Romney has a clear shot at the nomination. Most doing it under pressure so that the eventual nominee could focus on the general election and the ultimate goal of making Obama a one term president. Many believed that an exhausting primary battle would have weakened the nominee making it harder for him to win, although President Obama was not hurt by the long primary battle that he faced.
It would have been nice if Indiana voters once again got a shot at choosing who the nominee would be. It would have been great to have presidential hopefuls to once again visit our town and give us a chance to hear the candidates first hand.
So a very few of us will go to the polls on Tuesday and pick the candidates that we will see in November. If history is any indication I am guessing that less than 20 percent of registered voters will exercise their right to vote in this year’s election. That is an abysmal number if you take into account all the things that are going on around us. Congress has an approval rating in the single digits and one-third of the Senate and all of the House of Representatives is up for election this year, yet virtually no one will go out and vote.
Traveling around in at least two of Indiana’s congressional districts over the last few weeks, I have seen a variety of signs for different candidates. Some of the campaign signs don’t even mention the candidate who they are for, they just say “RETIRE LUGAR.” I haven’t gotten close enough to one of these signs to see who paid for them, but I am sure that a Political Action Committee in support of Richard Lugar’s opponent has put up all the money for that campaign. What does it say about the candidate that they actually support? To me it says “Don’t vote for me, vote against the other guy.”
I have also read signs from a candidate in the eighth congressional that read boldly at the top of the sign “WILL REPEAL OBAMACARE.” I would rather a candidate tell me what he stands for instead of what he is against. If the candidate disagrees with some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, maybe he could enlighten citizens on how it can be fixed instead of starting over from scratch.
Between now and Tuesday I challenge you to look at all of the candidates and make an educated decision about which way we would like our community to head. We have been given an incredible responsibility and we need to do our best to choose our leaders wisely. How the future will play out could come down to the candidates that we elect in November, making this primary election just as important.
— Matthew Nash can be reached at email@example.com