People love to complain. I’ve often heard friends and acquaintances of mine attempt to justify their political apathy and “cop out” with statements like, “They (politicians) don’t care what we think.” or “It doesn’t matter; politicians don’t listen to us anyway.”. Statements like these are nothing more than a weak attempt at justifying their apathy in their community or their indifference to politics.
I became involved in local politics completely by accident. I was helping a friend with his campaign by providing a DJ service for his fundraisers in exchange for the awesome beefsteak dinner. Over the span of two years, my fiance and I became consistent supporters of the Sussex GOP. We are regular folks, both self-employed in a so-called “blue collar” profession, and we always felt welcome by the folks we met in the GOP.
Over the last two years, my interest in politics has developed into a much deeper quest for knowledge. I began by studying the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and reading the classics such as the pamphlet, “Common Sense”. Those two documents and publication helped me build a solid foundation upon which to begin building a house of knowledge.
I regularly attend lectures and seminars on political leadership and activism. By understanding how our governmental structure is arranged, I committed myself to becoming a better citizen by attending our local borough council meetings, asking questions, and validating answers through my own research. I transformed from an indoctrinated Republican and a mere party supporter, to a critical thinker capable of engaging in debate. During those lectures, seminars and “activist” meetings, I’ve had dozens of opportunities to learn what real oppression by government is. The stories which I’ve heard coming from residents in the counties of Hudson, Union, Essex and Camden counties leave me shaking my head in disbelief.
My observations are clear and objective; “We, the people” are represented very well in Sussex County. Although there will always be room for improvement, no elected official is capable of making everyone happy simultaneously. It’s impossible. From our legislators to the freeholders and the local municipalities; we don’t have the same level of problems with our representatives or elected officials as the aforementioned counties. We have overall transparency in our governments, and my personal observation is that our local councils and freeholders sincerely want the public engaged in their communities. Our governmental structure is arranged to prevent faction, but for some reason, most citizens prefer to disengage themselves from their elected officials and squander their constitutional rights. Republicans and Democrats are equally culpable in this regard.
Our elected officials make themselves available, and they want the public engaged in their communities. It is disappointing to attend a council meeting in a borough with a population of 5,000 people and 1,900 households where only 8-15 people show up; two or three of which are reporters. Then, after a new ordinance is passed or a capital purchase is made, the public arrives at the following meeting with pitchforks and torches ready to interrogate the mayor and council. One or two evenings per month isn’t much to ask, and it costs nothing to attend, so there really isn’t any excuse.
At the last freeholder meeting, there was a resolution being considered which many New Jersey residents would have objected to. During the public comments, the freeholders listened intently, considered the counterpoints to supporting the resolution, and afterward, they actually pulled the resolution from the agenda. That is how government is supposed to operate. Most of our elected officials understand that our governments are instituted among men/women, and that they derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Indeed, there will always be argument for improvement, but we have the vehicle to effect the improvement; it’s our right.
Complaining about politicians, new ordinances or tax increases while the majority of residents aren’t active in their communities and spend each night sitting on the sofa, poisoning their minds with pretty much anything currently on television is fundamentally irresponsible and the epitome of abject apathy.
It is incumbent upon the residents of Sussex County and our legislative district to make an informed decision before entering the polling booth in June. Please participate in the political process by voting on June 4. It is our Constitutional right and a civic duty.