In this neck of the woods, Republicans seem to automatically vote for members of their own party, thus serving their ideological, religious and economic interests regardless of the issues at hand or the character of the candidates.
And relatively few Republican voters question on an ongoing basis the decisions Republican officials make, once they are in office. Questions like: Was the decision or project disputed? Were essential conversations had and, if so, with whom? Were other ideas or alternate solutions considered? Can the logic behind the decision-making process be explained? What does the budget look like and can we depend on the expense or project staying within bounds?
Republican voters are exceedingly loyal. They focus their energies on supporting their political party and believe, wholeheartedly, in its brand. Blind adherence to this Republican brand is resulting in a political system in which many of us—those who are not loyal Republicans—just don’t trust our government. In a totally subjective poll that I conducted in a most unscientific way, a dozen of my neighbors—party affiliation unstated—were asked whether they had confidence in their elected officials to protect the best interests of the whole community. Better than half said no.
In a national poll conducted by the Associated Press recently, only about one-third of registered voters interviewed indicated that they had confidence in their fellow Americans to elect representatives who would serve the greater good and protect minority interests.
Sadly, it appears that Americans—in the age of Trump—no longer assume that our leaders expect the best from themselves and the people they place around them. We hear, on an almost daily basis, about nationally and locally elected officials who have been involved in shady practices and, when suspected of wrongdoing, deny, deflect and protect themselves and each other from scrutiny.
Upwards of 90 percent of Republican voters approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as president, no matter his character. They appear oblivious to his labeling countries with black and brown people as “s---hole countries;” ripping migrant children from the arms of their parents; dehumanizing immigrants; making upwards of 22 false and misleading statements each day; defying campaign finance laws; hiding payments to women; inspiring a rise in hate crimes and white nationalist violence; running a trillion dollar post-tax-cut deficit; inviting foreigners to corrupt our elections; abandoning our allies; and surrounding himself with advisers who are, one after the other, quitting in frustration or being convicted of crimes.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that most Americans have lost confidence in our ability to choose effective and honorable leaders. We have put into office too many individuals who insulate themselves from the realities of everyday life, constantly bicker and posture; peddling their influence as if they were selling wares out of the trunk of their car and are preoccupied with being reelected, not doing what’s best for our town and country.
Our democratic system of government demands dialogue and negotiation. However, repeatedly, we are witnessing the crumbling of the middle ground, acrimony toward compromise of any kind, and, under the guise of purist ideology, an absence of a centrist way of thinking. Entrenched officials, more often than not, are unwilling to yield an inch of control.
In my rambles about town and in the emails and calls I receive, I’ve come to believe that as a community we are dangerously naive. Not just because Republicans seem to vote mechanically for the party and not the person, but also because too many local Democrats—more cynical and apathetic than ever—just don’t come out to vote.
A government that is competent, honest and fair and serves the vital interests of the whole community will not become a reality unless all the people in this town come out and vote.