In the March 20 News Bulletin, you’ll see some blistering remarks for the 89 1/2 percent of Crestview residents who didn’t vote in last week’s municipal elections.
The message is simple: If you don’t vote, don’t complain.
It’s a catchy slogan worthy of a bumper sticker, but carries little weight. We Americans often like to have our cake and eat it, too, so the apathetic non-voter who wants to weigh in on the potential skateboard park or other public improvements can complain to his or her heart’s content without consequence.
The secret ballot doesn’t expose citizens, and they won’t implicate themselves as non-voters, so it’s a moot point.
The truth is, Crestview could present a ticker-tape parade encouraging people to vote, a grassroots organization could convince dozens of residents to wear “Vote” T-shirts; and students could have relentlessly pestered their parents, brothers, sisters and other 18-and-up relatives to visit the polls.
It wouldn’t have made much difference.
Residents read about the election in the newspaper or on the Internet; they heard about it on the radio or television; friends talked about it; and even if they otherwise hadn’t heard about it, motorists doubtless saw the campaign signs throughout the city.
They knew — they just didn’t care. Because “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Pawn Stars” or “Duck Dynasty” was more important.
That’s the culture. We can deconstruct it, call attention to it and maybe even make non-voters temporarily regret silencing their own voice. But it probably wouldn’t change much.
And even if it did, just for a moment, “NCIS” would return from commercial break and the thought would vanish.
We trust that our newly elected leaders in Crestview and Laurel Hill have their communities and residents’ best interests at heart.
However, we remind the non-voting public that some movers and shakers in this country get into politics to run roughshod with their agenda, using the uninformed citizenry’s apathy to win office.
Who’s to say, at some point in the future, it couldn’t happen here?
But enough of that unpleasantness.
In this week’s Editor’s Desk, let’s shift to a more productive group: Okaloosa County change agents who are making a difference.
Bill Robinson, the Okaloosa/Walton United Way president and CEO, is retiring after 25 years of service that certainly inspired numerous residents, over the years, to give back to their community. Prior to his time at United Way, he served for the Boy Scouts of America.
Yvonne Wood, a Crestview military spouse and mother of two, has said her “destiny” is to help non-profit causes. Her latest effort is one of the most selfless things we have heard of: entering a contest to win a trip abroad — not to Paris, but rather to visit the poor and place canvas shoes on their feet. (See “Fulfilling her 'destiny,'” March 20, A1.)
Carson Caldwell, a Riverside Elementary student, was sick of bullying and decided to do something about it. He created a Bully Box for anonymous reporting of behavior that violates Okaloosa County School Codes. (See “Anti-bully Pulpit.")
But it doesn’t take as much effort as these residents to create change.
Jimmy Wrye wrote a letter to the editor criticizing heavy traffic on the left turn lane to John King Road. The letter published two weeks ago in the News Bulletin and he soon received feedback from county authorities who could relieve the situation, he said.
We will keep monitoring the traffic situation and will let you know of improvements.
Additionally, we will keep reporting on north Okaloosa County residents who make a difference in their community.
Contact News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni at 682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbEditor.