May 11, 2010
I’m announcing a new feature on the website today that I’m pretty excited about.
But first . . .
This past Sunday in church, we watched a “child-led” service. It was great. Young kids conducted all aspects of the morning.
And, of course, it was Mother’s Day. It caused me to remember Mother and Daddy and our typical after-church routine when I was growing up.
My favorite part of those Sundays was how we’d always spend lunch talking about what the lesson had been that day. My parents enjoyed asking us questions about what we’d heard and been taught.
They pushed us to ask questions too. They wanted to be sure we were listening, and affirmatively exploring the real meaning of things, as we developed our faith and incorporated it into our lives.
Well, not all questions, or processes for getting answers, are created equal. In fact, some of the more annoying things about an election year are all the polls and surveys – the typical way questions get asked in politics.
If you’re a “lucky” voter, you’ll be interrupted during dinner with a call from a polling company that’s testing out some way to regurgitate your answer back at you.
You might also get a form in the mail with some prepackaged questions and simplistic, multiple-choice answers – which in essence lead you to an answer. And you might decide that you have better things to do than participate.
Even candidates get questionnaires – usually from interest or advocacy groups that want to be sure they’ll hear exactly what they want to hear. The questions are filled with buzz words and loaded language, leaving no room for nuance.
Every now and then, you see a unique question. My favorite was one that I got four years ago from a group that had worked very, very hard to beat me in a previous election.
I don’t have the survey any more. But I remember the question was something like: “Is there any group that would do anything to defeat you?”
I wanted to respond, “Yeah. You guys.”
These surveys and polls usually miss the point. They don’t dig into the big issues, opportunities or challenges facing Texans. More often than not, they’re really about the person asking the question. They’re almost never about you.
So is it any wonder that some leaders, who use these polls to decide what to say and what to do, seem out-of-touch with what you think is important? It’s not just that they don’t have the right answers. They’re not even asking the right questions.
It’s a way for you to ask the really hard questions and to raise important issues or thoughts, the ones that touch your life directly and speak to where Texas is heading or needs to be heading. The questions that our leaders – in their words and actions – too often fail to answer or even acknowledge.
The thing is, as big as this state is and as many different opinions as Texans have, we all actually have a lot in common when it comes to our questions.
— We all want to know how our schools will prepare future generations of Texans for the world they’ll face.
— We all wonder how the state will control the insurance and utility bills that so many of us struggle with.
— And as we read about the recession and the impending state budget shortfall, we all wonder how Texas is going to balance the budget in the next few years while building the infrastructure – the roads and rail lines, health clinics and hospitals, schools and universities – that we need now and that our kids will need even more.
These are big questions. They speak to tough problems and concerns that we all share. And the way we answer them will define our state’s future.
I want to know what you really think, and what you want to ask. How do you see the questions about what Texas is facing and where it needs to go? What nuances are there in the way you’re asking it? What are our leaders missing?
So please take a little time – really, it’ll only take a minute or two – and go to http://www.kirkwatson.com/texas-questions/. Then just enter your idea of what Texas ought to be asking, along with any background that goes into the question. It’s completely open-ended; raise whatever issue or question you like, whatever speaks to Texas and its future, whatever you don’t hear being asked or talked about.
I’ll take some of the questions and publish them here in the Watson Wire. I’ll also be sure to share them this summer at the State Democratic Convention in Corpus Christi.
This isn’t a place for me – or anyone else – to tell you what questions you ought to be asking. It’s more than a simplistic survey with pre-packaged questions calling for shallow answers that some political pro wants to test. It’s also not intended to be an “Ask the Senator” column. It’s bigger than that.
Texas Questions is about you. It’s about your family, your dreams, your worries, and your Texas. It’s about your questions – the ones that need to be asked and that our leaders need to hear.
So please go to http://www.kirkwatson.com/texas-questions/. Let me know – let us all know – what questions need to be answered.