The Edmond Sun

December 10, 2012

LETTER: Democracy works best with informed voters

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — To the Editor:

I’m writing in response to an opinion piece written by Rep. Jason Murphey titled “Why did your property tax go up?” (Dec. 4, 2012, The Edmond Sun)

Murphey is ranting about ad valorem taxes going up in his district primarily due to school bond issues that were approved by the voters. Schools are largely supported by ad valorem tax, particularly the capital outlays.  Voters must approve the ad valorem tax supported bonds, and I believe it must be a 60 percent approval, not just a mere 51 percent.

Murphey rants that many people did not know about the school election dates so did not vote and thus, due to their ignorance were somehow disenfranchised. It sort of begs the question: “Do you really want a bunch of uninformed yahoos casting uninformed votes.” I personally would prefer that all citizens get informed on issues and cast an informed vote.

Years ago, when I ran for public office I would say “no matter who or how you vote, please go to the poll and vote.” I have come to realize the error of that statement. If you are too dumb or disengaged to know that there is an election and too narrow to get informed about the issue on the ballot then please, by all means, do not vote. Placing school elections on general election days is not the answer. Many more voters, if informed, would be a good thing. However, many voters showing up to vote against President Obama or for Sen. Jim Inhofe and then as an aside voting on multiple non-national or non-statewide issues may not rectify the egregious wrong Murphey perceives.

Murphey’s real motive is to stop all tax increases at the local level. That would mean no new school improvements, no jail improvements, no new money for county roads and courthouse operations in Logan County. In Oklahoma City it would mean no MAPS I, II or III, all which were approved by voters. But the worse attack would be on public schools. I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry; and you cannot have an informed citizenry without public education.”

Alas, perhaps this is the real reason for Murphey’s rant. If we can gut public education and dumb down citizens then we can keep electing the same rednecks.

At least the micro segment of the population, which Murphey deplores, that may have voted for a tax increase stayed engaged, got up off their behinds and went to the polls. The others just whine. The right to complain carries with it a duty to participate. If you cannot stay informed enough to participate, then please don’t go whining to your representative or to me. You have no one to blame for your unhappiness buy your lazy self. And if driving to the polls on a winter day is too inconvenient so as to disenfranchise voters as Murphey believes, then probably we have lost the zeal for democracy’s citizen participation that the founding fathers envisioned.

Randel Shadid