Rhetoric to the Left of us! Rhetoric to the Right of us! Yes, it is presidential election time in America. The sales pitches are coming at us fast and furious from all directions. More often than not, every four years we put ourselves into the position of listening to nonsensical one-sided arguments of what needs to be done to improve our nations economic situation.
I say “put ourselves into the position” because we have done just that, we have placed ourselves in the position of listening to political nonsense by continuing to vote for those that play the political game. How can we fix this? Well for starters, we can actually vote in our elections. Simple right? You would think so, but this really needs to improve dramatically. In the last two presidential elections about 40% of those eligible to vote, simply did not show up at all. In 2004 58% of eligible voters participated and in 2008 about 63% of eligible voters participated. What is amazing is that in 2008, that 63% number represented a record voter turnout. That means nearly 40% of eligible voters did not cast their vote and therefore a very large portion of the populations voice went unheard.
The next thing that we need to do is become more engaged in the affairs of our Nation. To do this, we all need to become far more educated as it relates to the various issues at hand. It is simply not good enough to blindly follow the incumbent or latest contender that gives the best speech! We get so caught up in the emotion of any given issue that we don’t even take the time to figure out what is important or what our vote actually means to any given matter. Our lives, our economy, our health-care, our education and our children’s future are far too important to be swayed by a perfectly delivered political speech.
An embarrassing example of this “emotional following” was when Rachel Maddow, a MSNBC news personality, confronted a group of protesters in Alaska. The protesters apparently were against some of the views of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. When Ms. Maddow asked some simple questions about the issues they were being opposed, the individuals that responded simply did not have accurate knowledge about the issues that they had taken the time to protest. One of the protesters actually ended up confessing, “I honestly don’t know enough about him to answer that truthfully”! Can you imagine? You take the time to make signs or posters, you march defiantly about an important issue and yet, you don’t even have any real knowledge about what it is that you are protesting! Wow!
The best way to vote for “change” is to fully understand both sides of an argument for any given matter and then develop plans that address both the long-term and short-term needs of the issue at hand. To do this however, voters need to understand what the consequences of any give vote may actually mean.
For instance, a candidate may be suggesting a solution that is more long-term in nature. If this is the case, the voters need to fully understand that with long-term solutions or “investments”, there is often sacrifice and even pain. If the voters fully understand the commitment that is necessary to achieve such a goal and are willing to make the sacrifice, you just may have happier constituents.
Unfortunately, what we see in our current political environment, are talented salespeople using strategic and emotionally charged buzzwords that simply don’t address what needs to be done to provide actual solutions. After the emotion has worn off, we often become very we disappointed because what we thought our representatives had promised did not even come close to materializing. It is truly amazing how little our candidates actually say. If you take the time to listen closely you will not only be amazed, but very disappointed with how few solutions our elected officials actually offer.
Some months ago I was at a conference about the then recently passed JOBS act. At this particular conference, the promoters had a certain senator speak to the conference via video feed. Although the senator was amazingly articulate and extremely engaging and I even found myself nodding in approval of what he was saying, I quickly caught myself and started to listen closer. What I found was that the senator pretty much had no idea what he was talking about and for that matter probably new less than anyone at the conference that was there to hear him speak.
The point I am attempting to make is that we need to find ways to personally become more engaged in the issues that face our country. We need to question the meaning of the proposals that we being asked to vote upon so that we can fully understand the consequences of such a vote and we need to firmly demand results from our elected officials.
The only way to do this is to become more educated about the nations issues and be sure that our voices are heard. This can only happen if as many citizens that are able to vote, actually vote.
The first presidential debate is this week. Please take the time to listen to what both candidates are specifically saying or more importantly, listen to what they are not specifically saying. Take the time to question the meaning of their proposals and how it may affect the long-term and short-term issues that our economy is facing. If you are not clear about the meaning of these proposals, ask a trusted source. When you ask your questions, be sure that both sides of the issue is explained to you in detail, so that you can better weigh the pros and cons of every proposal.
Remember, our officials are elected to work for and represent our views. They are elected to make the choices “Of the People, By the People, For the People”