My question is: What should we expect from our state legislators? Unless we are vigilant, we’re already behind the eight ball as each new session begins. Unless your representative is a good communicator and cares what his constituents think, we don’t have a clear idea what issues they will be tackling or which way the legislator is likely to vote.
Alabama has big problems. A recent report from U.S. News assigned Alabama with an overall ranking of #49 out of 50 states on healthcare, education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment. We are down from #46 in 2018.
In my case, my legislator has a phone and an email address. I have never received a response to any of my emails. He wants me to just call him on the phone. There is no social media presence, no newsletter to constituents, no town halls. Should we not expect some kind of meaningful dialogue with our legislators before and during the legislative session?
I would really like to know that my legislator is well read and keeps up with important issues facing our state, perhaps even considering an occasional well-reasoned change in his or her position on an issue. Last year I attempted to have a brief sit-down with him/her before the session began but was told there was just not a good time and I should drive the two hours to Montgomery to see him/her in their office. When I got there, I had, maybe, 5 minutes before the legislator was called to some meeting. I did the same thing this year to no better result. They are busy and hard pressed for time.
So, just where do voters/constituents fit into this contract that we have with our legislators? We must let them know what we expect and vote them out if they do not make an honest effort to meet with us on a regular basis, in some way.
Living in a democracy is certainly better than an authoritative state but we must work for it.
“Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” To which Franklin supposedly responded, with a rejoinder at once witty and ominous: “A republic, if you can keep it.”