Our View: Electorate holds all accountable

In his autobiography, former U.S. Speaker of the House Thomas Phillip “Tip” O’Neill coined the phrase, “All politics is local.” With that line, the statesman illustrated how meaningful legislation is directly tied to understanding the influence of constituents.

The outspoken Democrat, who was constantly at odds with Republican President Ronald Reagan during daily debates, carried a comprehension with the chief executive that drew the two men together as after-hours friends. These men realized, across party lines, the concerns they commonly held were for those who elected them into office.

Practical answers, not intangible ideals, are what people care about most, according to O’Neill and Reagan.

More than 20 years later, politicians and the public seem to have forgotten how to accomplish goals with a constituency being the priority.

Many Americans have even decided their votes do not count.

We believe that attitude may hold some truth, but only if the public allows indifference to exist and does not remain active after campaigns come to a close.

Email conversations with Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter, in addition to Rep. Jeff Landry found all three office holders contending that constituent emails, correspondence and telephone calls can make or break legislative efforts.

Casting a vote, according to these and other elected officials is only part of the process. In order to see results they need to remember who sent them to office, but also have constant reminders that those voters genuinely are concerned and involved.

Most people separate their motives and emotions behind voting for local offices from those they send to Congress or the White House. Yet the fact remains, what any politician does or does not do impacts people. Politics is local with every vote regardless if a given office is down the street or 1,150 miles away.

O’Neill’s point was that most voters are concerned first about resolving their local issues.

We intentionally do not endorse candidates. We do however encourage voter participation beyond the polls.

There are 2.9 million registered voters in Louisiana this election season. That number is approximately 76,000 more than those that participated in the 2010 election. Presidential contest years always draw more participants.

Do those votes count for anything? They do only if those who cast ballots remain connected with the offices they participated in filling. Whether it is the Morgan City mayor’s office, Lockport’s council or congressmen representing Houma or Thibodaux, votes mean nothing if the elected and the electorates forget one detail – it is all a local concern.