Thanks for coming Senator, now listen up

Published 5:12 pm Monday, March 22, 2004

By Staff
Arthur McLean Editor
When Sen. Richard Shelby came to Atmore's Community Cup Tuesday, he said it was an opportunity not only for him to have access to us, the citizens and voters, but also for us to have access to him.
I'm no grizzled veteran of "town meetings" but I've been to enough to know the drill, and Sen. Shelby's meeting was no exception.
While they don't have the same tenor as a campaign stop, these town meetings usually bear the same hallmarks: the politician outlines his top points, with relatively few details and then tries to answer audience questions in ways that reinforce his talking points.
As the Senator rightly pointed out, what happens in Washington affects us right here in Atmore. And the questions he received Tuesday morning reflected the awareness our residents have of that fact.
The questions the Senator received also revealed that the people of Atmore are also acutely aware that what happens around the globe affects us in this small community.
We've lost jobs to cheap wages, cheap currency and lax environmental and labor laws in countries in Central and South America and Asia.
We've said goodbye to our family members, neighbors and friends as they leave to do battle and liberate the oppressed in the Middle East.
We've paid more at the pump as gas prices rise, and we've watched the amount of taxes taken from our checks rise, fall and rise again.
Yes, Senator Shelby, we are quite aware that what happens in Washington, and around the world, affects us here.
For the most part, the questions Shelby received from our Atmore residents were pointed and dealt with the realities we face here in our hometown, not philosophical questions about taxes or a bunch of tie-dyed questions about legalizing marijuana.
I hope the Senator recognized that.
We may not have a staff of paid Washington lobbyists. We may not take the Senator out to expensive dinners on our expense accounts or make personal presentations to his staffers from our point of view on a weekly basis, but we are still an interest group.
We comprise the interest group of Atmore, Ala. and we the voters should try to exercise as much influence on our elected officials in Washington as any other special interest group. Meetings like this help in getting our local concerns across to our leaders, but they don't happen enough. Thankfully, we can still right letters, send emails and call. Someone has to read it all, and, in some form, it eventually gets back to our elected officials. Take advantage of that fact.
If the good Senator came away with nothing else from his visit, I hope he came away understanding that he is dealing with a group of people here who are intensely concerned about the well being of this community. This is a group of people passionate about our little part of the world, and these are people who are working hard everyday to make it better.
Arthur Mclean is the editor of the Atmore Advance. He can be reached by calling 368-2123, or by email:

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