Thursday, September 2, 2010

Former Baron Hill supporter not convinced this time!

From Jennifer Siefker in The Seymour Tribune:

District walk fails to convince

Comments 22

A couple of weeks ago I watched a WTHR Channel 13 report highlighting the two front-runners in the Indiana 9th Congressional District. Along with a brief synopsis of Republican candidate Todd Young’s views, they featured incumbent Democrat Baron Hill and the repeat of his “walk” around the district.
In 1990, Baron used his “walk around Indiana” to garner voter recognition and to provide accessibility to his political views. Although he ultimately lost his bid for the U.S. Senate, he did manage to win over a large number of Hoosiers. His “walk” was perceived as a down-to-earth way to get in touch with voters across the state.
This November’s hotly contested congressional seat is receiving national attention because of its potential to help swing the balance of power in Congress. Hill is hoping to rejuvenate his campaign with a repeat of this political strategy.
The only problem is, when he accomplished this maneuver 20 years ago, we believed he had honest intentions to connect with the voting public.
This time around, we see the politics behind it.
The repeated “walk” is merely symbolic, and people today are savvy enough to realize the difference. Baron is missing the mark. What the people of the 9th District expect are public forums where we can share our support on issues and also voice our concerns. We’re not interested in controlled telephone conferences or a surprise meeting on the street.
I am reminded of my encounter with Baron during the 2009 VJ Day parade. My parents and I brought signs soliciting his “no” vote on the health care reform bill that was raging in Washington. I naively thought that since the formal debate on the House floor had only begun, (and in fact the bill was not “officially” unveiled on the House floor until October 2009), that Baron would be open-minded and intent on representing the majority of his constituents.
Baron walked over to speak with us. In years past we had been his supporters. We briefly expressed our concerns about the scope of the legislation, and he began to administer talking points behind his support on the issue. We asked that he hold a local town hall meeting to better gauge the sentiment of our residents. At that point, he had declined to schedule town hall meetings anywhere in the state.
Baron gave us the impression he would fear for his safety at such an event. Surprised, we reassured him and suggested that he had a responsibility to provide an open forum for such landmark legislation. He quickly turned to rejoin the parade.
As I watched, I stared in stunned silence, realizing that while the debate in Washington had only officially just begun, our sole voice on this monumental issue had already cast his vote.
And so I hope Baron enjoys his “walk” around Indiana again. As he attempts to reconnect with his electorate, we will brace for the bombardment of junk mail and ads that hope to persuade us he’s an “independent” voice in Washington.
I am reluctant to swallow this fiction.
According to the Washington Post, Hill has voted with his Democratic colleagues 87.1 percent of the time during the current Congress. In addition, he has thrown his support behind the Obama administration on issues that will ultimately prove detrimental to Hoosiers. This November, he will face the consequences for his role in passing extensive legislation that the majority of Americans do not support.
Our most revered Founding Father, George Washington, spoke these words in his 1790 address to the nation: “Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of happiness.”
Many politicians prefer for the general public to stay uninformed. It’s how they are able to stay in office.
As for me, I think it’s time to bet my money on another horse.
Jennifer Siefker is a Seymour resident.

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