I recently received the opportunity to write an article based on interviews with 7-10 people about the election to be held on Nov. 2. Surprisingly enough, I found that even after approaching over 100 people, I could find very few willing to share their thoughts on politics. Why was this so surprising?
In Texas right now we have our race for Governor, with three candidates to choose from; the incumbent Rick Perry, Houston former Mayor Bill White and Katherine Glass (Libertarian); and the future of Texas I would think would be a topic which many of my friends, neighbors and even people on the street would have an opinion on that they would like to share.
We also have several races for State Senator and State Representative as well as local judges and several bond issues, like the controversial 469 million dollar Katy Independent School Bond; ReNew Houston and yet another regarding Houston red light cameras. So, not only do we have the future of our state in the balance, but several important personal rights and property rights issues at stake.
Most people didn’t want to share their thoughts on any of these issues. Not even ones as simple as a red light camera. Why is that I wondered? And is it happening only in Texas?
However, there were a few who are willing to share their thoughts on politics and the issues that are important to them; so let’s hear from them to get a pulse on those willing to share their take on Houston politics:
Each of those interviewed agree that the gubernatorial race is the most important and I have to agree. Jennifer Heath of Richmond, Texas says, “I feel it’s time for fresh blood, a new face in Austin. I’m hoping the majority of my fellow Texan residents feel the same way. I am also a strong Obama supporter and believe he was left a huge mess to clean up, and is on his way to doing so.” Tara Forward of West Houston says, “Texas is at a crossroad and its residents are demanding action and more accountability from its leadership.”
When asked about early voting, Jennifer says, “I will be voting on Election Day. I plan on taking my two boys so they can be part of the process. I realize they’re young, but I want to talk to them about the importance of doing your civic duty and the responsibility that comes along with that.”
I participated in early voting and while I was happy that I didn’t spend the hours in line that I did during the presidential election, I was disappointed to see so few people participating. I didn’t even get accosted this time with people handing me flyers to vote this way or that.
After consulting with many other writers, I found that they too were struggling in their states with locating people willing to discuss politics. Are voters simply following the “direction” of their party lines? Are they apathetic? Maybe they are afraid that they “don’t know enough to state their opinion?”
I don’t know what other writers found, but this is what I found out about politics in Houston this election:
“I’m not even voting, it’s not like it’s a presidential election,”
“I really don’t know enough about the issues or the candidates to answer even the simplest question. I plan on voting, so I guess I better start finding things out.”
“I voted straight from the sheet of paper the HAR (Houston Area Realtors) gave me. After all I’m a realtor, so we all have some needs in common for the future of the city and the state.”
The most popular response was “I don’t want to share my name or location, politics are a very volatile and personal subject and I don’t want someone to read my opinion and get mad at me.” This opinion doesn’t give me a great deal of hope for the future of politics in the area. If we can’t even hold a simple discussion about politics and listen respectfully to each other how can we expect those we have elected to office to do so?
Unfortunately it may be true that open discussions about politics are no longer an acceptable discussion, after all a local magazine shared the press release regarding the KISD school bond issue and asked readers to share it with their friends and family. But when comments about the whole story were made, the entire thread was deleted from their pages, including my own.
Historically, Texas hasn’t ever been “quiet” or afraid of anything and its residents are no different. I wonder where that ability went this election year? Maybe it’s “one for the books” like so many other things that some Texas state school board members want to change. Voters, not all change is good.