By Ruth Gadebusch
It surely appears very early in the game to be so fully engaged in an election, but like it or not it is all engulfing. The importance of this coming election cannot be denied.
My first inclination is to emphasize the national part. After all we will be selecting the leader of the free world. With no incumbent it is wide open. Alas that national part is dependent not just on the candidate but on whom we send to represent us in the state legislatures and Congress. As if that was not already true it just became more so with a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Nominating a justice to the Supreme Court is arguably the most important opportunity a President gets. Most often a relatively young person is chosen in order that the legacy of the appointing president can last far into the future. The opposing party to President Obama immediately announced that it would not confirm anyone he nominated regardless of qualifications. That would mean a year with a shortage on this court making serious decisions regarding the future of the nation.
It is this split party governance with one party more focused on blockage than cooperation that makes our local elections so important. My belief is that the forefathers (No foremothers were allowed involvement in creating our government.) intended the senate confirmation of judicial appointments to function for assurance of competence, not raw politics. California has a senate opening this year. Hence our responsibility to choose carefully.
Whom we send to the House of Representatives will matter more with budget negotiations. Oops, that is the problem. The current Republican majority has vowed that it will not even consider the President’s proposed budget. Split government does not have to be that split. Both parties should have something to contribute, not just pure opposition to a proposal with no alternative offered.
It is the tendency of both parties to run amok when their control is totally assured; however, not so long ago there is room for cooperation, negotiation, an offering of an alternative. Now all too often, it is sheer bullying. That does not serve us citizens well. It is not what the venerated writers of our governing documents expected.
Aside from membership in legislative bodies we have an open mayor’s race in Fresno this year. That is, there is a race within the borders of the City of Fresno, but not for us who live in the many county islands that the city affects. That is an ongoing problem that must be addressed for governmental efficiency, as well as just plain old common sense.
In the meantime, I cannot forget how divided Fresno was in the last mayoral race. There was a frightful division between the Northern and Southern portions of the city. It could not have been more clear-cut that the eligible voters for one candidate, in one area, turned out to vote. The supporters for another candidate, in the other half of the city, stayed home. No matter how we feel about the outcome of that race we cannot ignore that kind of division. Both those who were thrilled with the outcome and those who desired differently must join in heroic efforts to convince the citizens in the southern portion of the city that their vote is just as powerful as a vote cast elsewhere. They must make the effort to get out the vote or forever remain out of the loop.
In no way is this meant to be reflective of the merit of the candidates. It is concern about a segment of the population feeling disenfranchised. The problem lies in failure to use that franchise. In that mayoral race, one population group voted. The other group did not. It is that simple. We who care about our area must find ways to encourage all to use that power. Only with all of us feeling we have an interest in the outcome worthy of the effort will we unite, not necessarily agree, but work together. There is no expectation of overcoming economic disparity with our current housing patterns, but the interest of all does coincide. We can use our vote for shared power.
Ruth Gadebusch is a veteran and a community activist, a former member of the Fresno Unified School Board of Education and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Center for civic Education