Vote. Vote Vota! Vote.
These are the rally cries of the Laredoans who sit in busy street corners and a block away from the polling sites to encourage us to vote. It seems, however, that they have accomplished nothing more than making noise.
Laredo is inundated with bright colored political signs on the corners of the streets we drive. The newspapers used to promote the latest events have turned into political photo-ops. Name recognition is not the problem, I can even name the candidate who made homemade signs with spray-paint. The candidates have even made their way to the internet as they are found in banners and pop-ups in local media websites and social networks.
However, I can’t name you the positions and stances these politicians have taken. I can’t differentiate between a candidate who has the same values I do than someone who doesn’t, and there lies the problem. Despite local media attempts to encourage Laredoans to vote, such as broadcasting live debates on Univision and Pro 8 News; politicians used the segment to focus more on criticizing one another than highlighting the important issues. If politicians want citizens to vote they need to go out and inform us.
I constantly see Facebook and Twitter statuses encouraging others to vote for a particular person, but sadly when it comes down to it, most can’t tell you why. Laredo is largely dominated on a networking basis. Those who know enough people win. As citizens, we need not only to inform ourselves of the issues, but to encourage our candidates to do the same. It is difficult to identify with a certain candidate, when you’re not certain what they stand for.
A citizen voting is likely to sway their vote according to the information possessed. Unfortunately, those who are simply voting for their friends, family, and a name that sounds familiar defeat the purpose. They are easily persuaded to vote for a candidate without proper information and persuading others to do the same. Although it is our duty as voters to inform ourselves, it is also our candidate’s duty to make this information readily available to us.
This is not the fault of the voters, but of the candidate who failed to inform. I understand that political campaigns are complicated and politics are ruthless, but how can a real candidate expect to win when they are constantly being bullied and placed in the defensive? Instead each candidate should state their strengths and weaknesses, and how they will work towards a better Laredo.
Despite the increase in early voting participants, there is still a lack in information. Instead of having our candidates shouting their names in the streets and placing their faces on every street, it’s time they begin to answer our citizen’s concerns. It is difficult to identify with a candidate and cast an unbiased vote when we are basing it on who used the most campaign money to have their face seen often. If politicians focused more on important issues concerning Laredo, instead of criticizing each other to the point of attacking family, we would be able to cast a well-informed vote and expect real change.
It’s time to focus on the real issues, and change the rally cries to chants of change, but we can only do this if we encourage our politicians to focus on informing the public, and less on the next photo opportunity.