I wrote this post in September 2016, when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were running for president. However, political candidates change every few years. The message of this post always applies, regardless of who wants to live in the White House.
People are all over the map with the upcoming election. Never have there been so many opinions. Love Hillary, hate her. Love Trump, hate him. Like her, but don’t trust her. Trust him, but hate his personality. We need a woman; we need a tough guy. We need to stick with what we have; we need change. Hate ’em both – not voting. And, by the way, hate the media too.
AUGH! It’s enough to scramble our brains. What I hate is that we’ve come to this point. How in the world did we arrive at a place where the majority of voters are unhappy with all presidential candidates?!
I have some thoughts on this, which you may or may not like. That’s OK.
Regrettably, I think “we the people” are responsible for this calamitous mess we’re in. Here’s why:
The average American citizen is not paying attention.
It’s true. We’re busy working and raising families and trying to save money. Some of us are still in school, not thinking about Supreme Court justices or Social Security issues. (I wasn’t when I was in my 20’s.) Some of us are simply uninterested in politics – it’s complicated, or boring. Some of us are cynical, thinking politics is a crooked business and none of it matters, so we watch football or spend hours on social media. Too many of us just don’t care.
But, here’s the consequence when we’re not paying attention! Philosopher Edmund Burke said it best:
The only thing necessary for evil to thrive is that good men do nothing.”
Let me be clear: I’m not laying the term ‘evil’ at anyone’s feet, but the principle here is important to understand.
We can just as easily say this: “The only thing necessary for Trump to win, is that good people (who oppose him) do not get involved.”
Likewise, “The only thing necessary for Clinton to win is that good people (who oppose her) do not get involved.”
It’s so easy for us to complain about politicians, but are we doing our part? Do we even vote?
Do we vote in local elections, not just presidential ones? Do we know who’s on our local school board? Who our mayor is? Our police chief?
Governors and presidents, senators and congressmen – they all start out at lower levels and work their way up. We have to pay attention to who’s running in big races and small ones. We have to be informed. Otherwise, we end up with leaders we don’t like, can’t even tolerate – leaders we hate.
Of course, life is not fair (we need to get over that, too) and circumstances beyond our control sometimes make it difficult for us to stay informed, to learn, to be aware. Sometimes just getting through the day is all we can manage. I get that.
And yes, there are citizens who love politics and are very involved in the process. I’m not talking about those folks.
There’s a group – too many of us – who choose to not take seriously the privilege and responsibility of living in a democracy. The truth is, we’re politically lazy.
So while we’re floating along, being good people, but apolitical, individuals we wouldn’t want to be in charge are carving out a path and working their way up, and yes, thriving. Some of them are taking advantage of the fact that we’re not paying attention!
And pretty soon…here we are.
Granted, politics can be complicated, and I can’t cover all the details of why we are so divided in a single blog post, but we need to wake up and take responsibility for the choices we make, or don’t make. Generation after generation has fought and suffered to keep America going, and we can’t forget that.
If you’re in the camp that is considering not voting this election, I urge you to re-think that. By not voting, you are forfeiting a right that others died to give you.
If you really can’t stomach either candidate, here’s my take:
1. Watch the debates. Judge for yourself what the candidates say. Don’t rely on later media coverage to give you snippets and their take. Listen to all the candidates live. Take notes if it helps. Accept the responsibility of living in a free society, and learn all you can. Even if you don’t like what you’re learning, at least you are then fully informed. Fully informed voters create wiser societies. So, we can then avoid elections like this one.
2. Vote for the platform you most agree with. If you’re not familiar with the details of the party platforms, google them and learn. Keep in mind, the leader in the white house changes every four to eight years. You really don’t have to like the president. It’s more important you support the principles upon which the party stands – they don’t change much. This is the approach I’m taking this year.
I’m like most people. I wish we had better options this election year. But, at this point, I can’t do anything about it. I’m going to vote, and I’m going to keep paying attention.
If we citizens don’t start paying attention, this election will be, sadly, as good as it ever gets.