October 20, 2006
With the election season in full swing, it seems timely to discuss one of the most frustrating characteristics of campaignsthe sound bite.
Complicated public policy decisions and plans are broken down into positive or negative one-sentence statements.
Unfortunately, this practice doesn't end with the campaigns. It has invaded the world of public policy advocacy (lobbying) as well.
Today, Texas House districts include over 145,000 people. Texas Congressional districts have 651,619, and Texas Senate districts are the largest with about 672,000 people.
With so many voters in these districts, campaigns must rely heavily on the media to get out their message. There simply aren't enough days in the year or hours in the day for personal campaigning to make a real difference. As a result, everything is boiled down to the point that little substance is left in the message. Or, the truth is stretched to benefit the one delivering the message.
Campaigns and policy advocates want everyone to believe that everything is black and white. Leadership and good policy rarely are so clear cut. Our state is big and diverse. There are no simple solutions to creating public policy that is fair to all, or even a majority, of Texans.
Whether it is taxes or water, the truth is beyond a bullet point on a campaign flyer. To truly measure the candidates, or the success of a bill passed by Congress or the Legislature, you must look beyond their sound bite. Don't hesitate to do a little digging. The truth, the WHOLE truth, is out there.
One of the advantages of Texas Farm Bureau membership is the resources provided by our organization.
This publication, Texas Agriculture, is built around the issues that affect you every day. Our organization's political action arm, Texas Farm Bureau AGUND, Inc. (AGFUND), can give you guidance on those candidates who respect and understand the importance of agriculture and the rural way of life.
Our website, www.txfb.org, can direct you in any direction to find the truth. Under our Legislative section, you can find full backgrounds on issues ranging from water to the Trans-Texas Corridor. And a wealth of information can be found in our Texas Legislative Action Center. You can find out who your elected officials are (local, regional, statewide and Congressional) and how to contact them. Legislative alerts and updates are posted regularly, along with summaries and status information on key bills. You can even find out how your Congressman voted on the issues you deem important in roll call votes.
Finally, you have professional staff available to answer your questions on these issues. Don't be afraid to do a little digging. We'll help. It is our job to help our members get beyond the sound bite.