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Politics | from Local to National Government

”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil

is for good men to do nothing.”
  (Edmund Burke)

  • The greatest watchdog of our freedom is an informed electorate.  It is the government’s responsibility to help educate the voters, thus enabling all citizens to study and make intelligent decisions on all candidates and issues, especially complicated issues.  
“It is not the function of our Government
 to keep the citizen from falling into error;
it is the function of the citizen
to keep the Government from falling into error.”
(U.S. Supreme Court, in American Communications
Association v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382,442)

  • Officials are elected to listen to the voice of the people, because the majority of the people usually make the best decisions.  In addition, citizens will usually accept the decisions made by the majority of the people, better than decisions made solely by the leaders, regardless of the voice and will of the people.  
“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty
to the agencies that serve them. 
The people, in delegating authority,
do not give their public servants the right to decide
what is good for the people to know and
what is not good for them to know. 
The people insist on remaining informed
so that they may maintain control
over the instruments that they have created.”

  1972 Washington State Public Records Law
(overwhelmingly approved by the Voters)
  • There is safety in an informed public.  We must not permit fear of criticism to keep us from doing our duty to speak out for the things in which we believe.  We can make our influence felt by our informed vote, our letters, our teaching, and our advice.  
  • Citizens have a right to know how their local and national government is functioning in order to measure the performance of elected officials and hold them accountable for the passage of laws and the expenditure of our taxes.  
  • An example of the misrepresentation which often occurs between citizens and those who are elected or hired to represent the citizens, is as follows:
    • Spokane politician:  “If we let the people vote on this issue, they will make the wrong decision!”
    • Spokane high school administrator:  “Parents just need to get out of the way, and let the educators do their job!”
    • Spokane school superintendent:  “We know from the overwhelming voice of the parents that they do not want (this new program), but we are going to do it anyway!”
  • "I would like to apologize to the American people.  You see, I forgot that I was hired to do a job for you, and that was just a temp job at that. I forgot that I had 250 million people who are paying me to make their lives a little bit better, and I didn't live up to my part of the bargain see. You see, I think there are certain things you should expect from your President. I ought to care more about you, than I do about me.  I ought to care more about what's right, than I do about what's popular. I ought to be willing to give up this whole thing for something that I believe in, because if I'm not....then maybe I don't belong here in the first place."  (from the 1993 movie Dave, Kevin Kline speaking as U.S. President Mitchell)

  • Judges—appointed or elected.   Some judges are appointed, and some are elected.  Judges in our constitutional system are to interpret the law, not rewrite it.  However, some judges have the power to impose many changes in our society, without considering the will of the people and their elected representatives.   “Activist” judges are judges who impose their own policy preferences in their decisions.   They read into the Constitution principles that are not declared by the plain language of the Constitution.  Activist judges have removed prayer from public schools, changed the abortion laws, and changed the marriage laws.  

    "Law is the voice of the people.  Justice makes it heard."  - Ann Sullivan
  • Religion and politics cannot be separated, because government is touching our personal lives so intimately today—such as in the areas of abortion, same-sex marriage, creationism vs. evolution, religious freedom, etc. There used to be a common moral compass which was generally compatible between religion, society and politics; but today they hold a wide difference of opinions, and it is growing wider every day.  That once unified moral compass is now spinning out of control. 

  • Who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys? 

    Conflict between rival groups was explored in a 2014 study.  As part of the study, researchers interviewed Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East, and Republicans and Democrats in the United States. They discovered that “each side felt their own group (was) motivated by love more than hate, but when asked why their rival group [was] involved in the conflict, (they) pointed to hate as (the other) group’s motivating factor.”  In other words, each group thought of themselves as the “good guys”—fair, kind, and truthful. By contrast, they saw their rivals as the “bad guys”—uninformed, dishonest, even evil.   (Source:  Boston College, “Study Finds Intractable Conflicts Stem from Misunderstanding of Motivation,” ScienceDaily, Nov. 4, 2014)  https://www.sciencedaily.com/

    "A recent study that explored conflict between rival groups. As part of the study, researchers interviewed Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East, and Republicans and Democrats in the United States. They discovered that “each side felt their own group (was) motivated by love more than hate; but, when asked why their rival group (was) involved in the conflict, (they) pointed to hate as (the other) group’s motivating factor.”  In other words, each group thought of themselves as the “good guys”—fair, kind, and truthful. By contrast, they saw their rivals as the “bad guys”—uninformed, dishonest, even evil. 

    "During World War II,
    the world was immersed in a terrible war that brought agonizing grief and consuming sorrow to the world. This war was caused by my own nation (Germany)—by a group of people who identified certain other groups as evil and encouraged hatred toward them.

    They silenced those they did not like. They shamed and demonized them. They considered them inferior—even less than human. Once you degrade a group of people, you are more likely to justify words and acts of violence against them.

    When someone opposes or disagrees with us, it’s tempting to assume that there must be something wrong with them. And from there it’s a small step to attach the worst of motives to their words and actions.  Of course, we must always stand for what is right, and there are times when we must raise our voices for that cause. However, when we do so with anger or hate in our hearts—when we lash out at others to hurt, shame, or silence them—chances are we are not doing so in righteousness.

    What did the Savior teach?  “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”  Matthew 5:44-45

    This is the Savior’s way.
    It is the first step in breaking down the barriers that create so much anger, hatred, division, and violence in the world.  We are responsible for our own discipleship, and it has little—if anything—to do with the way others treat us. We obviously hope that they will be understanding and charitable in return, but our love for them is independent of their feelings toward us."   (Source:  "Three Sisters," by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, LDS General Conference, September 30, 2017; and Boston College, “Study Finds Intractable Conflicts Stem from Misunderstanding of Motivation,” ScienceDaily, Nov. 4, 2014) 

  • The thing that has changed in Washington is the influx of money.  Campaigns have become, ‘I have more billionaires than you do, so I am a viable candidate.’  I don’t think that is what the Founders had in mind when they started this country.  Something is going to have to change on that front, because what we have now, people have to sign up with so many special interests before they get to Washington, that once they are here, they can’t compromise.  When you have a government and a legislative body that can’t compromise, you have what we have, a legislative body that is in constant and total gridlock.”  (Bob Schieffer, Face the Nation anchor, retired from CBS after 46 years of reporting the news, “Original Reporter,” CBS This Morning, May 29, 2015)

  • Remember "courtesy."  When the Spokane County Republican Party office was targeted by vandals who painted hate speech on the windows, the Spokane Democratic Party office issued a statement condemning the act, and offered to help clean it up.   (Source:  "Spokane GOP Office Targeted by Vandals, KHQ-6 News, January 30, 2017)

What You Can Do
  • Get involved in politics.  Find out who your local lawmakers are, and how they are voting.  Everyone has two representatives from the House, and one senator.  See http://wa.gov/ to learn about our government and elections.  Click on “Find Your Legislator” to find contact information. 

  • Learn how Bills become Laws.  Every legislative session produces thousands of bills, but only a few hundred make it through both chambers and onto the Governor's desk.  They must be signed or vetoed in 20 days, or become law without a signature.
  • As the political and moral issues become more complicated, “We the people…” must “insist on remaining informed so that (we) may maintain control over the instruments (we) have created.”  (1972 Public Records Law, which was overwhelmingly approved by the voters)
  • Consider the Family—always!   All community, state and federal decisions should consider the impact on the family. Discussions should run through a family filter, protecting and supporting the most important unit of our society.  The government cannot take the place of the family. Encourage government leaders to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.  http://www.fpiw.org/
  • Become informed, and then write, email, or call elected officials about those matters of importance to you.  Many elected officials consider each letter they receive to represent the opinion of many thousands of voters who did not take the time to write.  When the opportunity arises, meet with your elected officials and talk to them about their positions on issues of concern to you.  All of the state’s lawmakers have their own Web sites.  Occasionally “Web dialogues” enable the public to participate in online discussions with legislators.  To view the bills which are currently being introduced by the state legislature, visit http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/
  • Make time to find out how well those you voted into office are representing your views. Regardless of your position, simply note the power and magnitude of a legislator’s vote.  “In 2007—some of those we elected to represent the citizens of Spokane…
    • “Took away the rights of our local schools, teachers, and parents to control the sex education curriculum which exposes children to graphic sexual materials that many parents find objectionable.  
    • “Passed a bill to force all employers (starting in 2009) to provide up to 5 weeks of paid family leave upon the birth or adoption of a child; employees would receive $250 a week instead of their regular salary; and employers would be required to keep the job open until the employee returns.
    • “Voted to turn our State’s surplus budget into an enormous deficit.  This budget crisis will reach nearly a billion dollars more than our economy will generate in taxes.  They also committed to add 3,800 new employees to the state payroll.  Overspending may result in an increase in taxes to support the projected debt.” (Richard S. Davis, VP Association of Washington Business, The Spokesman-Review, June 20, 2007)

Additional Resources

“Ask Spokane.” 
Send your questions and comments regarding the City of Spokane’s government to “Ask Spokane” at (509) 755-CITY (755-2489).  An operator will direct you to the correct department. Also, visit http://spokanecity.org, and click on “Ask Spokane.”  Messages will be forwarded to the appropriate staff member.

Citizen’s Directory of Elected Officials. 
This directory is prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Spokane Area.  It contains information on city, county, state, and federal elected positions, as well as voter information, local party participation, and political websites.   Call (509) 326-8026.  

Spokane County Elections Office. 
Contact this office for information regarding…
  • Current offices subject to election, including School Board Positions, Senators/Legislators, Judges, Mayors, City Councils, etc.    Citizens interested in running for an office.
  • Dates for filing (deadline end of the first full week in June)
  • Campaigning and Campaign signs
  • Political Parties
  • Precinct Maps
  • Voter Registration
  • Election Results and Statistics

Democratic Party - Spokane County
(509) 324-8525
1912 N. Division St., #100
Spokane, WA  99207
(inside Teamsters Labor Building)

Republican Party - Republicans of Spokane County
(509) 838-6162
104 S. Freya St
1011 E. 2nd Avenue
Spokane, WA  99202

Family Policy Institute of Washington 
(formerly the Washington Family Foundation of Spokane)  

Initiative Information
Election results
(Spokane Election Office)

Contact your Legislators

Lawmakers’ proposals and voting track records   

Legislative Hotline:  1-800-562-6000  
Call this toll-free number to get a message to your legislator who will return your call. 
You will be asked what your legislative district is, which can be obtained from your voter registration card. 
District finder, http://apps.leg.wa.gov/districtfinder/

Legislature Voting Records.  
View the voting records of all legislators.   

A list of “Missed Votes” for each legislator is also provided.  There are various reasons a member may not be present to vote, such as sickness or hazardous travel conditions.  Be advised that in the House of Representatives, the House Rules state that –

“Members must be present to vote.  Every member who was in the House when the question was put shall vote unless, for special reasons, excused by the House.  All motions to excuse a member shall be made before the house divides (votes) or before the call for yea’s and nay’s is commenced; and any member requesting to be excused from voting may make a brief and verbal statement of the reasons for making such request, and the question shall then be taken without further debate.  Upon a division (vote) and count of the House on the question, only members at their desks within the bar of the house shall be counted.”  (House Rules)  

The state Senate explains that a “missed vote” means a legislator is excused or absent.  A missed vote does not necessarily mean a person is not at work.  In the Senate, it takes 25 votes to pass a bill.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, the outcome of votes on bills is known before the vote is taken.  An individual may be off the Senate floor doing other things if the outcome is already known, and his or her vote will not change the outcome.  A legislator must be on the floor to register a “verbal” vote.  A vote cannot be given via email, phone or by any other means than by voice.                                            (Stated by the late Senator Bob McCaslin)