In Praise of Civic Activism

I am a progressive Democrat writing in support of a political candidate for whom I will never vote: perennial Republican candidate Robin Ficker, who is the Republican nominee for Montgomery County Executive in 2018. 

One of the greatest problems facing our nation today is apathy. The lack of a sense that we are all in this together and that only by actively demonstrating compassion and empathy for our countrymen, only by engaging in dialogue especially if it makes us uncomfortable, and only by believing that not only that our own voice matters but that everyone's voice matters can we begin to heal this great nation of ours. 

Of course there is the mess of the healthcare delivery system, there are growing socio-economic disparities, and then there’s the ballooning cost of higher education, but all of these can be remedied with policy solutions that are not only known in academia but are in practice throughout much of this nation and the world; we simply lack the political will to do the right thing. Only an active and engaged public can pressure the political system, businesses, the economy, and the rest of society into actively advancing the public interest. 

We need more people seeking to serve the public through elected office, more people who are persistent in the face of defeat, and more people who are committed to advancing the public interest even at personal expense while enduring ridicule. Our society needs more, not fewer, individuals like Robin Ficker who have conviction, vision, and the ability to act upon their convictions so as to advance the public interest. In addition to seeking elected office, Ficker has introduced and successfully passed numerous Montgomery County charter amendments. Regardless of whether one agrees with these amendments or not (I voted against his most recent, successful term-limit charter amendment), one must concede that he has a clear vision of an improved society and has arduously worked to actualize that vision. 

Too often perennial, non-incumbent candidates are dismissed out of hand because the electorate has not embraced them. Ficker has been dismissed as a ‘gadfly,’ possibly in part due to his conduct at sporting events more than in the political arena, but when the majority of Montgomery County voters agreed with his latest term limit proposal, it’s evident that Ficker is bringing substantive discussion to the table that indeed resonates with much of the electorate. 

Candidates such as Ficker energize the electorate and his ballot referendums actively engage a greater proportion of our citizenry in the electoral process than otherwise would be engaged absent his efforts. Ficker’s activism demonstrates that there are many ways to be engaged with and to demonstrate one’s commitment to the welfare of our community and as an activist progressive Democrat who would not vote for him nor for many of his initiatives, I applaud his efforts.