On Influence

 “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have…a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the character and conduct of their rulers.” John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd President of the United States

A wise man once said, show me your checkbook, and I will know what is truly important to you. Well, I will go one step further. Show me your checkbook and your calendar, and I will know what is truly important to you. These two things will show who or what has the most influence on your life.

Do you spend more time and money on your family or yourself? Is your calendar so full of things to do that what is truly important does not get done? If you believe in God, does either your pocketbook or your calendar reflect serving Him? Like most people, I often mistake what is the most pressing for what is the most important.  Unfortunately, sometimes what is the most important is not what has the most influence on our lives.

I can often determine what is most important to a politician by a review of their checkbook (campaign contributions) and their calendar (legislative appointments). An in depth look at both, in addition to a careful review of their voting record, tells me almost all I need to know about what a candidate deems important. Basically, I want to know one thing: where does the influence lie?

All candidates were required to file their report of campaign contributions recently, and I always like to look at these and see who is trying to gain influence over a candidate. Are they supporters of the voters, or of a particular group? Do they ascribe to liberty for all, or power for a few? Do the campaign contributions come from the constituents they would actually represent, or other localities or states? Money is influence, and politicians are always beholden to those with the money that got them into power. Therefore, to better insure their loyalty to us, it is best that we pick a candidate supported financially by those whom they would actually represent, instead of those who seek influence for a particular group or agenda.

Calendars are reflective of my second point on the political evaluation of influence– time. To whom or what does a politician give their time? Are their calendars filled with meetings with constituents or lobbyists? Do they actually want to see and talk to ordinary people at times convenient to their constituents, or are they scheduling mere token town halls in the middle of a work day in order to minimize attendance (like our own Senator Appel does)?  We need to evaluate how a candidate spends his or her time carefully, as that will show not only what they value, but who or what will have the most influence over their vote. 

As we speed toward the November elections, there is still plenty of time to do a little research to see if your candidate of choice is who you think they are. As someone who does this for every election, I can assure you that as a result, I very rarely vote a straight party line ticket. I choose instead to vote for men and women of character, who are good stewards at home and at work, who are transparent in all aspects of their lives, who are strong enough to meet with voters to discuss any topic yet humble enough to submit to their will, and whose behavior and influences reveal a loyalty to their constituents instead of to a particular party, agenda or group.

The power over your future was paid by the blood of patriots past. Use your influence. Get vocal and vote.

“There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing.” Daniel Webster (1782-1852), Constitutional lawyer, Massachusetts Senator and 14th U.S. Secretary of State

For information on your Iowa candidates’ campaign contributions, check out www.iowa.gov/ethics

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