Friday, July 13, 2012

Our current menace

During the summer, I enjoy driving around and enjoying the beautiful countryside. We have several places around here that are particularly scenic. Because of this, people who enjoy nature should consider themselves blessed to be living in this area.
It is more difficult to do this in cities. After all, there is not a lot that can be done to dress up a large metropolitan blob. However, in smaller communities, it is possible to have development while maintaining natural beauty.
Still, achieving this balance can be particularly challenging right now. This is because a local election is right around the corner, and the signs candidates put up to ask for our vote should be considered a form of urban blight.
I understand why they do this. Any means necessary must be used to get their names in front of prospective voters, and this is a way commonly used in this part of the country. Since the signs are often clustered together in high traffic areas, it is difficult for any of them to stick out and gain our attention. There was one that achieved some notoriety in Manchester recently, but that attention had more to do with what it said about a candidate instead of seeking a vote.
Still, candidates use this method. Until the prevailing conventional wisdom about their effectiveness changes, I am sure they will continue to use them as a way to reach us.
However, there are other ways they could communicate with us, but for some reason, many choose not to do so. Social media and other Internet venues are ripe with possibilities when it comes to getting local candidates in front of voters, but it seems many are unable or unwilling to embrace this approach. Candidates on the national and state level do this, but locally, not so much.
This is too bad because the opportunity is there. There are a few local officials that have web sites or Facebook profiles, and the ones I have seen allow those people to get their positions across to citizens in a way that is unfiltered by the local media.
There are pros and cons to this. Our local media is a watchdog that should be challenging all representatives on their positions and actions. If information is unfiltered, voters have to be careful that they are not falling for a bunch of propaganda.  After all, during an election year, some candidates will tell us what we want to hear so they can get our vote.
Despite this danger, the potential is there for effective dialogue between candidates and the public. More and more, voters feel alienated from the process. They feel their voices are not being heard which adds to the cynicism many feel.
Candidates who are willing to reach out to voters through these methods have a real opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. Frankly, candidates who do not use on-line resources are being lazy and are not showing they can adapt to the changing times. Is this a quality we want to see from a candidate? I will let voters answer that question themselves, but the answer is obvious.
By suggesting these alternative forms of communication, I am not suggesting that traditional methods of campaigning be abandoned. Despite their ugliness, the roadside signs do have their place.
But we live in a new age and candidates must show an ability to think outside the box. If they cannot embrace new ways to campaign for our vote, what does this say about their ability to try fresh approaches when dealing with our local problems?
Again, the answer is obvious. Hopefully, more will soon use these outlets.

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