Yesteday, a majority of senators voted no on a motion for cloture on the comprehensive immigration bill, including Ohio's Senators Brown and Voinovich. And good for them. It's obvious that they listened to the majority of Ohioans - and Americans - who believed that this was a bad bill that did not deserve to pass.
But what can Toledo learn from this? That public pressure can be brought to bear on our elected officials and result in them doing OUR wishes, instead of their own.
So many times, I've heard my fellow Toledoans say, "what's the point - they don't listen to us anyway." And this defeatism seems to be contagious. Whether it's electing the same names to different positions, recycling old politicians in appointments and committees, getting different faces but the same failed policies, refusing to communicate with politicians through mail, phone or public hearings...Toledoans - at times - seem to have given up. And then they leave.
But despite what appears to be a pervading attitude, I see isolated pockets of success: the south Toledo neighborhood who successfully defeated an effort to build an ill-conceived bike path, the override of the mayor's veto of a charter school in the old Shriner's building downtown, the existence of a recall effort (at least they're trying to make a difference!), and even the frustration followed by positive ideas showing up on blogs and forums (Toledo Talk and Swamp Bubbles - links on the side).
Toledoans should be encouraged and inspired by the example set on the immigration bill. Americans didn't like what their senators were going to do - so they spoke loudly, consistently and OFTEN - telling them to vote NO on a bad bill. The Senate phone system even shut down because it couldn't handle the number of calls...although it was characterized as a 'modest' increase in calls.
When the public gives direction to our elected officials, it can be effective. But it requires a sustained and consistent message, followed up by consequences on election day.
We've seen that it can work on a national level, Toledo...but do we have the will to make it work here?