Saturday, March 6, 2010

Invigorating Government

Growing up many years ago, I recall listening to my parents and their friends discussing politics. I particularly remember them arguing the qualities of Barry Goldwater’s campaign. I had no idea back then what was good or bad, although, to those having the discussion, their impassioned debate told me it would be bad for America if he won. As an adult looking back, it seems political parties of old purported to have stood for something. But now, political parties seemingly resonate one thing: get elected at all costs and never mind what the people want (or need). Politicians have decided they know better than us what’s good for us. And even if they’re wrong, we’ll vote them back in because we always vote the incumbents back into office. It’s disappointing.

Values, judgment, integrity, character, the ability to see and do the right thing is what should matter to the electorate, not a party affiliation or dare I say, a manipulatable ideology. It seems that more often than not, our political parties are creating issues they can later solve, riding in on the proverbial stallion to save the day. The bigger the issue, the more we need government to step in and rectify it - at least, according to them. Small issues are growing exponentially, becoming more and more perilous as the media over-hypes their reports and every politician with a media contact is quoted every fifteen minutes about this latest catastrophe until their stage has been properly set. I find disturbing this blind party allegiance that is allowed to rule the day. Regardless of who is in power or whom we vote for, the answer seems to only be more big government with the requisite big spending and ultimately, bigger taxes. This is all in the name of “helping all of us”. It reminds me of the oxymoron, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Nowadays, we have an ever-increasing portion of society who isn’t interested in doing the right thing or being responsible for themselves. They are more interested in their  “nanny-state” existence, where the ever-engorged government nipple is tendered, providing financial, residential and entertainment sustenance. It’s bad enough they feel entitled and boast a cradle-to-the-grave, womb-to-the-tomb mentality, but their only level of personal responsibility seems to be to teach their offspring this same dependency. Could this be what we have “taught” the youth of America to expect in the insanely liberal public school system? It seems so.

Simply, and some may say simplistically, our politicians are afraid to stand up to any special interest group because they don’t want to lose a vote. Yes, I believe it’s that simple. Whether they believe in abortion, gay marriage, nuclear energy, cap and trade, the war in Afghanistan, universal health care or whatever cause celebre may be surfacing, they will blindly follow the party leadership or the loudest voice because they are afraid to lose. They are so fearful they cannot envision their gaining votes by taking a moral stand with those whom think similarly. It should be less about the cause and more about doing the right thing. Ironically, when the Republicans bailed out big business, the Democrats said they were in bed with big business. Now that the Democrats have bailed out big business, they acknowledge the same sleeping arrangements. Is there really a distinction between the two any more?

When I look at the bailouts of the so-called giants of industry, I wonder why our politicians have ignored small and medium sized businesses (the real giants), which employ a large percentage of the populace? We’ve bailed out over-extended homeowners drowning with mortgage “deals”. Why are we not helping the average American homeowner who, while struggling to keep afloat by doing the right thing, could use a little help with their mortgage? As a matter of fact, why is government helping any of them at all? You should live by and ultimate endure with your decisions, good or bad. The TEA “party” people seem to get this. They are not a third party, although some would seek to co-opt them for their own. This is not what they appear to be about (to me). And, do we really need a third party as some suggest they might evolve into? I think not.

I want to speak with politicians with a moral compass, those not afraid to say ‘no’ to the social services recipient who wants more because they feel entitled. I want politicians who won’t exacerbate our financial situation under the guise of a “save-the-day” stimulus for those not capable of succeeding on their own merits. Will it hurt? Unequivocally, yes, it should. Growing up we all learned by the mistakes we made. Sometimes, you learned by your successes, but by and large, more was learned through our mistakes. If you don’t fail, you don’t grow. Ultimately, it is what it is. Our politicians must have missed that life lesson. It’s also what’s missing with what we teach our youth today. If there are no scores in a soccer game and everyone gets a trophy, how do you learn to lose? How can you learn anything? Equally important, how do you learn to win gracefully?                 

Let’s get engaged and improve the system. We need everyone to step outside his or her comfort zone and be heard. Don’t worry about getting it right as you venture into new waters. If you’re not sure how or what to do, start small. Attend several of your local village or town board meetings. Preferably, you can go to several in a row, establishing a feel for the issues that are discussed and those that are held over, postponed or require more than one meeting. They cannot keep you from attending and in most cases will welcome your attendance. Go. Just listen. If you have a question, ask it. They are there working for you and are required to answer you. In time, you will learn who the players are, who the stalwart residents are and feel more comfortable understanding the issues and the process. Then, when it’s time to vote, you will be able to make an informed decision, as opposed to most people who just vote the party line, unable to decide between good, mediocre, and poor candidates. We need to rejuvenate government for the people. Be a part of the rejuvenation. We must all stand united!