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Most Legislators Only Want Your Vote, Not Your Opinion [OPINION]

by rick knobe
Rick Knobe/Results Radio

There are some things missing in politics today: conversation, dialogue, human interaction, face-to-face talks.

Example: It would have been wonderful if legislators Senator Jim Bolin of Canton and Representative Don Haggar of Sioux Falls had called a public meeting in Sioux Falls to have a face-to-face conversation with the voters on their idea of making it harder to get issues on the ballot.

Don’t hold your breathe. Most legislators want your vote, not your opinion.

During the legislative session the back home “Legislative Coffees” are controlled. In Sioux Falls and maybe in your area also. Written questions only. No voice-to-voice conversation. No give and take. No intellectual interaction. No chance to provide our representatives with the benefit of our wisdom, intellect, and insight.

Most times when an elected official holds a “town hall” the invite list is short, and their supporters fill most of the available seats. We get to listen to them. They don’t get to listen to us.

Both of these environments are controlled. They are designed to protect the elected official from any type of discussion of policy, philosophy, legislation, and votes.

With the help of well meaning, but naive groups – and some special interest organizations who are not well-meaning or naive – elected officials rarely have to explain anything or have an actual conversation with a constituent in front of a live audience.

I am not suggesting free-for-alls, but I am suggesting a change of attitude and action on the part of those elected to represent us. Also, I am suggesting a change in the way we expect our representatives to interact with us.

Legislators need our vote to get the job. We need to make it clear that with our vote comes the expectation – make that demand – of them listening to us on a regular basis.

As we ponder what is wrong with politics today we should think about how our elected officials treat us, and why we allow them to get by with it.

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