Messages from the chair of Catherine Price
We are living in an era of superlatives. Driven by social media, everyone is seeking to outdo the next person. And when working in this political arena we often feel that we must compete in the same way. Simultaneously, sick of the whole mess, some people drop social media altogether to try and escape the hysteria. The current Republican Party is particularly caught in this dangerous spiral of “outrageous.” Trump had this infuriating way of stealing center stage. When our attention would turn to the pandemic or the economy or racial injustice suddenly, he would be there ranting and doing something shockingly immoral (I do think we need to use this word occasionally). This insanity continued unabated culminating in the violence that wracked the Capitol on January 6th. Predictably, Trump was front and center inciting a mob to violence and unleashing the mob on our legislators in the halls of our beloved Capitol. And now the Republican Senators want to give him a free pass. (It sure has been quiet since Twitter banned him. I hope it lasts.)
Another sign of the times engendered by our fixation with reality show politics is the idea that people can suddenly show up and instantaneously change established political order (both good and bad). One of the most disturbing parts of the “insurrection” – to me – was watching this unrestrained mob stroll through the halls of the Capitol alternately violent and then awed by the beauty of the building, gawking like tourists the first time they see this amazing building. Indeed, it turns out that for many of these people it was their first attempt to engage in governing and now some of them will face a stiff price for this extremely dangerous “learning experience.”
All of this makes creates a strong urge to respond in kind and sometimes we do (I admit I have). But no. Stop. Think. What is the true antidote for this downwardly spiraling social malady? What can I/WE do at this time that is positive and constructive? Currently, many of us are playing a very passive role in government. We get up, go to work, watch TV/social media, gripe about our pet peeves (depending on our political orientation), go to bed and forget about it. Meanwhile, important problems in our communities go unaddressed. Leadership positions on city commissions, local boards, and civic groups go unfilled. The community languishes from a lack of engaged citizens. On the Day of Service called by the Biden/Harris Inaugural Committee, my husband (David) and I picked up roadside trash on a filthy stretch of road in Lake Wales, our hometown. Some people drove by unseeing, not even tapping their brakes as we toiled picking up trash near the road. However, many slowed and waved appreciatively of our efforts. A few even stopped, rolled down their windows, and said, “Thank you.” The pride of seeing a cleaner intersection in our town was intoxicating – talk about immediate gratification – the endorphins were flowing that day!
It turns out that a well-functioning government is a kind of boring. Hence the allure of political theatrics. One Democratic legislator that recently won in a historically GOP district in Atlanta said he won because he stuck to bread-and-butter issues like jobs and healthcare. “It turns out that people just want someone that will legislate. They are sick of all the hype.” If we are sincere about wanting a better government in Polk County, we need to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. I call on all Polk County Democrats to roll up their sleeves. Figure out ways that you can contribute to making OUR community better. Attend city and county commission meetings. Get to know your neighbors and help them out when they are in trouble. Become a Democratic Precinct Captain Person or Block Captain to help get your neighbors out to vote at election time. We will teach you how to do it. My mother used to tell me, “Your actions speak louder than your words.” Let us stop the griping and moaning about losing elections in Polk County and Florida. We can be LEADERS in Polk County, Florida, right now. Just do it! Oh, and by the way, Vote Blue!