The Truth, And Nothing But The Truth..
Tradeshows and one-on-one interaction with the general public has always been a favorite sport. Educating others and being the "expert" on anything is quite a responsibility.
Standing post in the Maryland Republican Party's booth almost everyday this week has been rewarding. The Maryland State Fair has proven, once again, the public is unpredictable, brutally honest and always interesting.
After many hours of listening and explaining, it is apparent that the public wants honesty, regardless of political party affiliation. Confusion comes in a close second with disgust rounding out the top three emotions expressed.
You cannot imagine how many people wondered why the legislature would pass a law that was unconstitutional. Citizens know that there will always be partisan battles; however, they almost recoil at the thought that something as big as the Maryland Constitution is knowingly violated.
I had one older couple ask me if legislators were issued "law books" when they won election. These people were very serious. They assumed legislators know the law as part of the job requirement. They could not understand why so many laws were being reversed by the courts and innocently wanted to know who was responsible.
Confusion is another issue. No one understands why it is so difficult to educate children. Everyone wants the best for the kids and everyone hates that it has become a political issue. This has been the topic of the most disgust. "How can a "politician" expect to get re-elected when they fight about education? Aren't they all lawyers or something like that?"
Most people want to know who is telling the truth. The legislator on the doorstep told them one thing; then later they found out the same legislator voted differently. Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public are hurt and feel lied to because - to them - there is no "politics of Annapolis" only black and white, good and bad.
No one has mentioned BGE, minimum wage, the Chesapeake Bay, college tuition, Tom Perez, taxes or property rights. Perhaps it is because they think the subjects are too broad and difficult to discuss; or perhaps it's just old news or they just don't care anymore. I don't know.
I do know the questions asked were: health care issues, education of children and cost of living in regard to those on fixed incomes. Just plain old issues of wanting those elected to care for society in general.
Most wanted to know what legislative district they lived in. Oh, they knew the town and even the building they vote in but not their district or who the local candidates were.
Everyone knew Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Mayor Martin O'Malley and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. Everyone knew Mr. Steele was running for "some other office," Governor Ehrlich was running with "some lady who can't see," and Mr. O'Malley and the Democrats had a "black guy this time."
Surprisingly enough, few people knew any other candidate names (with the exception of "Mayor" Schaefer). Frankly those of us working the booth had to educate many. This problem was bi-partisan. Most who asked were those who live within the Baltimore City limits. They know they have been "told" to vote Democrat or always voted Democrat but they like Ehrlich."and no one knows what I do in that voting booth, Hun!"
The conclusion drawn from my time at the Fair is this: As goofy and uniformed as the public may seem, they want open honesty. No lies. No politics. Only results that benefit society in general.
They want to be informed by an honest source. Not The Sun. Not the mounds of political literature. They just want someone somewhere who will show them where they can go to seek the truth on their issues, not the issues the politicians want to push.
They will wait their turn for goods, services, and projects as long as they can tell the line is getting shorter. They will believe you if you come through on your promise. They will forgive you at least one mistake, if you admit guilt; but don't lie for your own gain; you're just a typical politician at that point.
Very soon the primary election will be upon us. My prediction, based on my time with the masses this week is, turnout will be low. Few are excited about the primary. Most think each major primary either has a clear winner or it's just a cast of many candidates and it won't matter who comes out; after all, the public knows very few by name.
Hopefully after September 12th we'll have more excitement in the election process. With any luck we will have candidates educating the public with facts that are provable. Maybe honesty and openness will prevail. Maybe we can vanquish from public service those who would lie to us for political and personal gain. I hope so.