Itís been a unique month for avid television viewers, and weíre not speaking solely about the return of the Brownwood Bulletinís weekly television listings on Sundays. First, the Summer Olympics held in Beijing kept millions of Americans up late for two weeks. That extraordinary competition was hardly over before the Democratic National Convention opened in Denver on Monday.

Certainly, political conventions are a different sort of spectacle, but they also provide great theater - even if, unlike in the Olympics, the ultimate winner is already known.

The Democratic convention and the Republican convention to follow next week are literally history in the making. Even if the nominees have already been decided by the time the cameras start rolling, important issues are being decided as platforms are adopted. And for voters who arenít so interested in those details (shame on you), watch the preliminaries carefully. Tucked away somewhere on the list of speakers are individuals who the respective parties have identified as potential future leaders. Possibly, one of them will be running for president or be selected for a top office in someoneís administration in years to come.

At this point, though, all the citizen sitting at home can do - other than vote on Nov. 4 - is to sit and watch. But much closer to home, another exhibition of self-government is unfolding. In coming days, many city councils, school boards and other entities are holding hearings on their proposed tax rates and budgets for the next fiscal year. These meetings are open to public and comments are solicited. Itís your opportunity to be heard.

The political season has been building for months - many months. It has now arrived, and itís time for every eligible citizen to become involved.

Brownwood Bulletin