By Emily West, Correspondent
“You don’t build a house from the roof down,” stated Texas State Legislature Representative Hugh Shine in a discussion on political involvement: “You build a house from the foundation up.” “People contribute to the political process by making a personal commitment to being involved. For most people today, the world is moving at such a fast pace. You have your families, your jobs, your careers. You have your civic responsibilities, and the pace of things moves so rapidly that there is not a lot of time left at the end of the day. I think that, because of this, people rely less on putting time toward the political aspect of things, which has led to more secularism in the political process.”
The newly re-elected statesman, who represents Bell County as part of District 55, gave his remarks on the American political process earlier this week.
There are many ways to get involved in local politics, but one of the most effective ways is to volunteer time with a local party chapter. Chris Rosenberg, Chairwoman of the Bell County Democratic Party said, “….volunteering with a local political party is one of the most effective ways to become knowledgeable about issues that pertain to the community. Too often, voters go into the voting booth with little or no knowledge of local candidates whose candidacies will have the greatest impact on their daily lives. Political volunteers take a leading role in educating their friends and neighbors about what the issues are and what local candidates stand for. When voters’ knowledge increases, people begin to feel empowered and want to join in the political process. An empowered electorate means that better candidates are elected and elected officials already in place are held to a higher standard.”
“Volunteers are the foundation of the Republican Party,” remarked Nancy Boston, Chairwoman of the Bell County Republican Party. “Volunteers worked several days to organize activities for the Precinct and County Conventions that were held on Saturday.” As citizens volunteer time to menial tasks such as envelope stuffing and phone answering, they have a chance to earn positions of greater responsibility and reward, even to the point of being ready to run for local offices. “People need to return to the political process and return to being more involved, particularly at the local level, so that they can in fact affect the political process at the lowest level. These effects will then transcend to higher levels of government,” remarked legislator Hugh Shine. “We are a government of the people,” added Chairwoman Boston, “by the people and for the people. We are a Constitutional Republic. There has to be the infrastructure to provide the activities and information necessary for political education. To be an informed electorate is every person’s responsibility.”
The District 55 representative Hugh Shine also referenced the ongoing election cycle–– one of the most polarizing this nation has ever seen ––as an example of political unrest and subsequent action in the nation. He discussed how the deterioration of American leadership as seen in local, state, federal, and even worldwide politics, seems to demonstrate a lack of action in American offices. From abundant executive orders to a seemingly ambivalent Congress, the public has gotten angry, and that has led to the candidates in this election cycle appealing to that anger and to the sense of injustice throughout the nation. But, rather than acting on that unrest, Shine calls locals in his district to act on their faith. “I believe more men and women who have faith should be serving our communities in public office. And I believe that is extremely important for our leaders.” The separation of Church and State is an incredibly serious dialogue in this nation’s political process, and one of great debate. Shine, however, claims that he believes the framers of the United States Constitution, while they had no intention of founding a state-sponsored religion, definitely “had no intention at all to lead us where we are today, to where secularism seems to dominate over spiritual belief.” This bleeds into local involvement in the political process, as Shine claims that “there should be no separation of Church and Statesmen.”
One may find it difficult to be an individual with strong political or spiritual beliefs in this nation at such a turbulent time, and the defense of the truth in a world where truth is considered to be a variable concept is even more difficult. Differences of worldview block the conflicting rhetorics of political parties from finding common ground and slow the political process to near stagnation. “If you have a strong Christian relationship with Christ, and if you are a prayer-warrior, and if you read the Scriptures, and if you try to follow the teachings of Christ, then truth is part of your life,” stated Representative Shine when asked about the nature of truth in this political climate. Regardless of one’s political or spiritual persuasion, democracy can only truly take place when individuals get involved in the local political process.
District 55 Representative Hugh Shine will be holding weekly forums, each Monday morning at 7 a.m., to discuss the legislative topics of the prior week and of the upcoming week. “People have asked me if, when I go to Austin, I’ll stay in an apartment there. No. I’m going to come home… because my friends and neighbors need to be able to contact me and to see me, so they can talk to me,” he stated. The location of each forum will be announced weekly on Mr. Shine’s Facebook page, for those interested in attending. For more information on meetings or volunteer opportunities, call the Bell County Democrats’ office at (254) 813-5123 or the Bell County Republicans’ office at (254) 933-2000.