The more I've been blessed to begin understanding our government and political processes, the more I've been troubled by the general lack of interest or involvement by people and the younger generations specifically. I'd like to take a few minutes to explain what I see as the problem and solution. By God's grace, it is my hope that this post will not be dismissed as "another rant about politics," but instead, will provoke thought leading to action.
Are American politics corrupt, and in some cases, absolutely evil? Yes. Has our nation fallen from grace? I believe so, in more ways than we'd care to admit. Is that, however, an excuse to sit back and pass judgment, or to shy away from the responsibility we hold as American citizens to be involved in our political process? Absolutely not! The patriots and revolutionaries upon whose backs our country was founded shed their blood, sweat, and tears to guarantee us the rights that we too often take for granted today.
Often, it isn't our intent to take those rights for granted. Common excuses that I was guilty of were "I'm just too busy," or "Why bother? The whole system is broken anyway." I loved to sit back and make fun of politicians and their scandals, and then to mope and lament about the lack of (morally) good and effectual change in our nation. While I'm no expert, I've come to believe that the system isn't broken; instead, we the people are.
We, the people, have elected each and every one of the officials whose words, actions, and scandals we mock, laugh at, tease about, and/or use as fuel for the fire of rage against the machine. In today's society, it's so easy to point fingers and pronounce judgment over the failures, shortcomings, and differences of opinion in other people - particularly those in places of authority. How many of us, however, take a moment to look at our own lives? How many of us have made the same kinds of decisions outside of the public eye? How many of us have broken laws that, had we been caught, would've put us away for a very long time (please note I'm not saying that makes it right)? How many of us have the courage to stand up for what we believe in, even in the face of ridicule and under threat of physical violence?
The bottom line becomes this: politicians are people too, and many of them are more "real" and vulnerable than we'd ever give them credit for. That isn't to say they're selfless and innately respectable; obviously, many are quite corrupt. That's why it's so important now (more than ever) to be involved, grow in discernment, and ultimately, to make the best decision and encourage others in doing the same. We can't always make the right and perfect decisions (if that's even possible), but we can at least come together and make the effort to try. Beyond that, we can serve as pillars of support; after all, by proxy, they're standing up for what we believe in too.
Getting started is simple. Are you a Republican or Democrat? If you're young and rebellious, odds are you frown at taking either label and/or hate the system in general. Reality check: the two-party system is the system we have, and while it isn't perfect, it's incumbent upon each of us to make the most of what we're given. I'd encourage you to research and understand the platforms of both sides and even the individual candidates. I mean no disrespect, but the alternatives are these: start your own country, support a third-party candidate, and/or continue in vocal frustration over your county, state, and/or country flushing themselves down the toilet all while your pride restricts you from making any legitimate and substantial impact.
Ideally by now, you've accepted that politicians are people, the system is what it is, and you've chosen one of the two viable and electable parties (probably the one that most aligns with your own beliefs and ideologies). These days, we're so quick and proud to exercise our ability to "think on our own" while refusing to be told what to do. Today, I invite you to truly exercise that. Sit down and do your own research. Google an overview of American government. Read an article about the impact of a seat in a local election. What exactly does a county commissioner do, what's their potential impact on your family or business? Why should you favor one VP candidate over another? So long as you live in America and don't live under an off-the-radar and self-sufficient rock, politics affect every area of your life (no matter how much you might think "it's up to somebody else" or "I'll make my statement by not being involved").
If you're anything like me, you'll realize very quickly that these things are tough to figure out alone! After determining my own political alignment, I sought to involve myself with people who have the same. I've had direct exposure to candidates and political processes. I'm member of a club that meets monthly (in addition to different events) and discusses all of this. I've met people and lecturers who have devoted their lives to better understanding and relating the roles, values, and purposes of every level of government. I invite and challenge you to do the same.
As a conservative Republican who only recently registered to vote, my choice for President is Mitt Romney. As a Christian, I cannot agree with the higher power he believes in. In fact, there are several points of his platform that I disagree with. He isn't my perfect or even ideal candidate. But, I tell you this: he IS my candidate, and I will support him and his cause, because the alternatives are a cop out and would leave me with nobody but myself to blame for the direction of our country. If he should be elected and fail miserably, I'll be all the more challenged and encouraged to make a better decision in the future (though I must concede believing a Romney failure better than an Obama "success").
In conclusion, I'm not asking you to vote as I'm voting or believe as I believe. All I'm asking is for you to stand up and get involved. Put aside any preconceptions, misconceptions, or general disdain for the political process. Get involved deep enough and for long enough to make an informed decision. Then, sign the small handful of papers and press the buttons it takes to go forth and make that decision. If you feel so inclined, go and share this process with others. Support a candidate. Hand out petitions. Challenge and be challenged. Be grateful for your freedom and ability to do each of those because of the men and women that gave - and to this day, still give - their lives for you to enjoy that. Oh, you hate war and think Bush dragged us to the Middle East for oil? Thank a soldier for your ability to express that and support a candidate that'll make the difference you're looking for. At the end of the day, we're all in this together.
One way or the other, it's time for the American people to wake up and hold ourselves accountable to take our country back. We can only do that the same way we'd run a marathon: one step at a time.
Thank you for reading. =)
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.