Bringing Back Ethics Won’t Cure Okaloosa’s Ills

Our political system for electing those who govern us is based on a belief that strong political parties, our freedom of political speech, and an inquiring press will provide us with enough information to cast an intelligent vote. The conflict and friction of the system makes campaigns unattractive to many and often bring out our baser natures. Money has become the dominant factor.

In theory, this process places the best candidates in positions of leadership. But the alleged two-party system with the press as referee is a fraud!

Nationally, we know nothing about our chief executive. We vote for or against candidates based on a single issue, based on their seniority, because they are members of our party, or to be on the “winning side” Locally, we have a sheriff who has pleaded guilty in connection with a kickback scheme a state legislator who’s been indicted on a felony charge of official misconduct. There is a call for returning ethics to local politics, an allegation that perhaps unethical individuals were elected many years ago and we have re-elected them several times since.

This situation is an indictment of our newspapers and at least half of those who voted each cycle. I find such a call for more ethics to be politics as usual and unproductive for Okaloosa County.

It is time for those who vote only for the two major party candidates to stop holding their noses while voting against personal principles. A politician’s promise of benefits at the cost of other taxpayers is too great a price for our votes.

No more politics as usual! It’s time for us to follow our values and principles. Our voting habits have produced professional politicians who go straight into government from school, are elected, and never hold a real job nor run a business.

The results are life time political careers without fear of losing re-election; one-party counties like Okaloosa and cities like Chicago; a sense of political entitlement; billions of dollars for pork-barrel projects directed to supporters; millions in bonuses with inadequate review; and corruption. Indictments for the misuse of tax dollars are a natural outcome.

What is the central issue in these indictments? These are not unethical people who have been elected to office as suggested by a recent writer (“Bring back ethics,” April 22). These are examples of elected officials being in office too long! These are examples of too many voters expecting their elected officials to “do things” for them in exchange for their vote and support.

We are not upset by the bonuses and the money for the hangar in Destin, but that these favors were given to those with more pull than we. The insult is we pay for these special favors with our tax dollars.

As long as we accept as normal that our government is the source of all benefits, our taxes will continue to increase, the money available for elected officials to buy our votes will be enormous, and its misuse will continue.

Voters must eliminate the notion that their elected official “doing something” for them is a positive when voting for a candidate. The voting decision must be framed this way: Will this candidate do what is constitutionally correct and which does not take rights or freedoms from other citizens to give me a benefit I do not earn?

The tough work of citizenship demands we replace politics as usual, not call for ethics reform one more time. We must evaluate our real political values, e.g. by taking the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz” at The Advocates for Small Government. Do we truly believe in personal and economic freedom or do we want more restrictions on our lives?

Then we must evaluate where candidates stand on personal freedoms. Look more closely at those who are truly closest to us and evaluate their positions in greater detail. Our vote will determine whether our personal freedoms are protected.

Finally don’t just “Spout Off” now and then. Stay engaged after each election cycle! Attend city and county business and budget meetings. Have a detailed knowledge of the parts of government that interest you most.

Our form of government may not be the best in this world, but it is far better than any other. It is worthy of more than just our vote. It deserves our continuous attention.

Lee Jackson, Chairman

Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County