Good Citizenship Is Being An Informed Voter

By State Rep. Raul Torres

Good citizenship used to be one of the main topics taught in our public school systems.  Over these past 50 years I have seen less and less emphasis being taught at our public schools on the values of good citizenship.  Perhaps this is one of the primary reasons why many people never or seldom vote.  Perhaps they lack good citizenship values and the necessary education that creates the importance of voting in their minds.

 Now don’t think that I am making this problem up.  Just last  week, I had the opportunity to speak to a room of over 50 successful, intelligent business owners. I asked them if they knew who their State Representative was. None of them raised their hand. Then I asked them if they knew who their State Senator was. None of them raised their hand. Can you imagine that? Nobody knew the answer.

 As you can see we have a serious problem.  Perhaps the real problem is not the fact they didn’t know the name of their elected officials, but rather the root of the problem is that the average voter doesn’t know how to sort through all the political maneuvering that takes place during the election process.  Let me elaborate a bit on this point.

 As we draw closer to Election Day, you and I will soon be bombarded with political ads that will, as one person recently said, ‘make me sick to my stomach to watch them.” What you will see or hear will cover an array of topics and messages from candidates seeking to convince you that they are the one who can give you what you are looking for.

How do you sort out all this information? How do you tell what if what you hear is true or if it is an outright lie? The process we use to evaluate, analysis and internalize these messages will determine who we may vote for President all the down to our local School Board.  I believe that perhaps I have found the answer.  By following these simple suggestions below we can systemize the manner by which we choose our candidates and therefore, make it much more simple to vote wisely.  By choosing wisely, we in turn are displaying good citizenship for the whole world to see in us.

 Here are my ideas on how to process all of the information so that you can make an informed and educated selection in the people you choose to vote for in 2012.

  • Vote your values. Make two lists of your family values that are the most important to you and your family. The first list is the non-negotiable list of values. For example, if the pro-life issue is your #1 issue or value then you would be looking for a candidate that supports that value or position if he/she is elected and there are no exceptions to this value. The second list should be a list of preferred values. These are the values that you would like in a candidate, but are not 100% required of them. These set of values should be the #1 factors in selecting a candidate you wish to vote for.
  • Pray.  God tells us in the Bible that if we ask him for wisdom he will provide it.  We need to be wise in our selection of our elected leaders.
  • Obtain a sample ballot from your local Elections Department. In Nueces County it is the County Clerk’s office.   Familiarize yourself with the candidates and the various elected offices on the ballot.
  • Schedule time from your busy schedule to do some research on the candidates.  Document what you learn about each one.   Your research should include visiting their websites, Google their name and look for other articles written about that person. If the candidate is an incumbent then research their voting record on issues important to you. For example, if you are a business owner I would assume that you would prefer a candidate that has a voting record that clearly shows that his record supports pro-business issues that benefit your business.  If evaluating an incumbent ask yourself, “Is my school district, county, city, or state better off now than when they first got elected? If no, then perhaps you shouldn’t vote for them! Looks like they have failed the people that voted him/her into office.
  • Listen carefully to the candidate’s messages. Ask yourself questions such as, “What are his/her main priorities? Does he/she offer a reasonable plan to solve our problems? Do they have a vision for our community? Are they sincere? Do they offer a solution to a problem or do they just blame others?”   Be careful with anyone who promises you everything! If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
  • Talk to your family and friends about the candidates. Share what you have learned with them and ask them what they think of that candidate. In the process both of your help each other make a wise selection as well.
  • Do not believe everything you see on TV or read on the Internet or in newspapers. Do not assume that allegations are true simply because someone says this or that. Did you know that in game of politics things can be said that are untrue and in most cases get away with it? This happens all the time. This is the “dirty side” of politics.
  • Call the candidate you wish to vote for and talk to them. Ask them the tough questions. Make them earn your vote. If they will not take the time to talk to you before the election, what makes you think they will talk to you after the election? Do not allow any candidate to take your vote for granted. Your vote matters and every candidate should be willing to earn it.   This is especially true for all local and state elected positions.

I hope these ideas help shed some light on how to best determine which candidate is best suited to serve your family, the community, our state and our nation.  Regardless of the process you use to select the your candidates please consider voting early if all possible, but if you can’t please be sure to vote on November 6.

Finally, your vote matters and I would like to ask you for your vote for the Texas Senate.  South Texas cannot afford another four years of lack luster and reckless leadership .  The current Senator abandoned our children and our elderly when he voted for the budget cuts that hurt our South Texas community last June.  I’ve had enough of his failed leadership and I hope you agree.  Join our team at

 Let’s Talk and Together Let’s Move Texas Forward!

 Raul Torres, State Representative

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