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Wednesday, 18 January 2017 16:04

We all need to get informed

Written by 

To the Editor:

Scott McLeod’s recent editorial “Looking more for ideology, less politics” (www.smokymountainnews.com/opinion/item/19140) truly resonated for me and I hope for this paper’s readers. I grew up in the shadow of this country’s birth near Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts,  and my formative years were spent on Cape Cod. I campaigned for President Kennedy in high school and had the honor of meeting him during my stint in the Navy (1961-65). 

After earning by bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in public administration, I’ve come to personally and professionally know hundreds of city, county, state, and federal officials, both elected and appointed.

Before “retiring” in 2006, my career included time as a political reporter for a South Florida newspaper, Director of Communications and Governmental Affairs for two Chambers of Commerce, and as the first Executive Director of the Broward County (Florida) League of Cities. I actively participated in Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission during the 1970s and ran for Broward County Commission in 1992. I have no affiliation with any political party and consider myself an independent.

As an observer of and participant in governmental affairs for a good portion of my professional career, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unlike North Carolina, Florida has a constitutional requirement coined “the Sunshine Law.” That law requires all elected branches of government from the local to the state level to advertise and conduct all business in public. I believe there are a few minor exceptions such as executive sessions of the legislature, but the press must be present or have a pool reporter in attendance. No secret meetings, no midnight surprises, no deception. It’s a shame the federal government doesn’t have such a requirement.

The only way this country has been able to thrive as a democracy past these 311 years is through healthy, open discourse, unrestricted (in most cases) public access to our government and electors, and the active involvement of its citizenry. Too many people rely on tweets, rumor, innuendo, and “reality TV” for information about their government and our elected leaders. Political parties have so polarized this nation that I will be astounded if the incoming administration will be able to function objectively.

In the words of the late Sir Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of government ... except for all the rest.” So a word to those of you out there who have an opinion about a particular candidate, issue, or position on the state of our government. Stop whining. Educate yourselves on the people and the issues. And above all get involved. The framers of our constitution created the greatest republic on the face of the earth. You owe it to them and yourselves to continue that tradition.

 Kurt J. Volker


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