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Pushing back from polling

It may be politically incorrect to joke about Poles, but it’s politically necessary to examine what jokes polls really are.

We’re rapidly descending into the dark days of campaigning, in which every other text, robocall, junk mail, or spam we receive invites us to participate in some survey.

Supposedly, these surveys gauge what we think. More likely, they are tools by which candidates forge attitudes by means of the way they phrase questions or identify topics.

Next time a campaign billows up like a menacing thunderstorm and threatens to deluge you with survey questions, consider what you’re being asked.

Nearly always, you’ll be confronted with a series of hot-button issues that people love to shout slogans about: pro-life or pro-choice, the 2nd Amendment, border security, ballot integrity, Christian family values, critical race theory, and the like.

If you get past screening questions, you’ll be told something about each candidate — things like: “Candidate X likes to pluck the wings off butterflies. Does that make you more or less likely to support Candidate X?”

Or you’ll be asked whether you worship or detest certain past or distant politicians like Donald Trump, Sam Brownback, Nancy Pelosi, or Chuck Schumer — none of whom (thank God) is running for anything in Kansas this year.

What pollsters are trying to do is find wedge issues that their candidates can become middle-aged cheerleaders for.

By shouting slogans designed to get people as riled up as possible, they hope not only to get their vote but also to get them to toss a few nickels on top of the bags of cash special interests contribute.

It’s no wonder the catch phrase “Survey says . . .” is used by a TV show called “Family Feud.” Political surveys are designed to keep feuds alive so Democratic Hatfields and Republican McCoys can continue to tear up our neighborhood with their unending battles.

Wouldn’t it be nice if at least one or two candidates showed some modicum of faith in democracy? When was the last time a politician actually listened on a “listening” tour and tried to learn what unique, local issues he or she could hope to actually address?

In Marion County alone, the issues could fill a debate and leave plenty left over for imaginative would-be leaders to devise solutions that would allow them to lead rather than follow:

Why hasn’t the county asked for, and the legislature designated, Remington Rd. from US-56 to Pilsen as a state highway honoring Father Emil Kapaun and encouraging safe pilgrimages by thousands of faithful followers of a man universally revered both patriotically and religiously?

Why have we devoted so few resources to researching and solving the blue-green algae that strangles Marion Reservoir and Marion County Lake, suffocating our county’s ability to capitalize on being a travel destination?

Why do judicial procedures allow defendants in slam-dunk, caught-red-handed cases to continue to shoot up in freedom, often for years, while taxpayers fork over huge sums to endless processions of semi-employed attorneys for defendants who supposedly can’t pay for a lawyer but always seem able to shell out for a bail bondsmen?

Why must we enrich engineers, grant-writers, and others by seeking cost-sharing aid to buy things we don’t really need and often can’t afford to maintain or store? Simply sharing, without strings, the revenue that funds such programs would slash overhead and put control over local improvements back where it belongs — in the hands of local voters and officials.

Why, when Marion County has roads, does it not simply receive an unrestricted siphoning of motor fuel taxes instead of having that money strained through a thousand state and federal bureaucracies before a trickle of it is returned to where it originated?

Why, when we think it’s unfair for small schools to compete athletically against big schools, do we consistently impose the same cumbersome regulations on the tiniest of businesses? Mega-corporations just plug these paperwork requirements into their multi- million-dollar supercomputers. Mom-and-pop companies end up facing death by a thousand paper cuts.

Why, when our cities are overloaded with people, do we as a society not create greater incentives for people other than meth heads to relocate to rural areas, where infrastructure often goes to waste?

Instead of bragging about how much money has been supplied or claimed for COVID relief, how about devoting the same amount of energy and pride into figuring out how we’re going to pay for all of this? Instead of worrying about who’s wearing surgical masks, how about worrying about who’s wearing a Hamburglar mask to claim relief that’s not really needed and that merely worsens our inflation and debt?

Those are just a few of the issues it would be completely refreshing to hear a candidate address instead of the endless litany of pro-life or pro-choice, the 2nd Amendment, border security, ballot integrity, Christian family values, critical race theory, and the like.

It’s time for all of us to hang up on pollsters and instead demand answers from the people asking us for our votes. Don’t worry about a candidate’s name or affiliation or church membership or profession. Worry whether he or she is willing to address the issues that actually will impact our daily lives in Marion County.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified May 25, 2022

 

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