As November nears, the calendar finds us amid the heart of political season with Election Day just a few short days away. Going to the polls should be a day to celebrate. An opportunity for the members of our community to come forward and vote. A chance for the everyday citizen to express their needs and wants and have a direct impact on the leadership which will determine our collective future. It is the fulfillment of the most basic tenets of our democracy and one of the very fundamental reasons why the United States has stood as a beacon to the world for freedom and fairness.
In the last few days, I have been hit by a barrage of campaign flyers, social media posts and direct mailers concerning the various elections. I have looked at the materials, watched the videos, spoken to door-to-door campaign workers and I must say I have walked away shaking my head. There was a time in our country where candidates developed a platform of what they believed, and they worked to inform the electorate as to their goals and plans for the better operation of our government. It allowed citizens to make informed decisions. Seemingly, those days are long past.
With very few exceptions, I have yet to see candidates come out and factually represent their plan for fulfilling the job upon election. If they are not an incumbent, they are sure to say the office they seek has gone to heck in a handbasket, and a change must take place or catastrophic conditions will continue. Seldom is there espoused a clear and cogent plan as to what the candidate has planned to change the situation. On the other hand, incumbents offer little explanation of what they have accomplished while in the office, or their plans. Often, they simply attack their opponent, not with specific policy position failures, but with vague attacks on their intentions and motivations.
Candidates use numerous platitudes directed at the electorate, letting the populace hear broad-based feel-good labels like describing themselves as “Christian” or “conservative,” though little explanation of what that means to the candidate. The underlying tone is they are “more Christian” and “more conservative” than their opponents. There are sometimes innuendos and occasionally outright attacks, that the opposition is a fake “conservative” or “Christian,” an assertion which some would say seems very un-Christ like. The reality is this group of candidates sees everyone who does not think exactly like they do as evil. How does one govern the people they represent if they view a portion of the electorate not as the political opposition, but as an enemy? Is there any wonder why we are deadlocked?
Then there are the political catch phrases that say nothing but infer action. “We need more transparency” is the call, but no specifics are espoused as to what information is being kept from the public. Sadly, the candidates who call for additional transparency frequently are not missing information, they simply reject the information which is available because it does not fit into their narrative. They have an agenda to fulfill, and information, facts or evidence are of little value unless it supports that agenda. They are not concerned with what is right, or fair or even honest, unless it promotes their end goal.
Then there is the long standing refence to the “good old boys” who evidently are a group of politicians who are in control of the world and manage government in secret to the detriment of the electorate. It would seem this group of individuals is any governing group in power, which is not aligned with the politician making the allegation. It plays into the long-standing “conspiracy” theory that somehow if we simply vote out a couple of people, good government can return, everyone will work together and life will be wonderful.
My all-time favorite is the candidate who takes a hard stance on cutting taxes. Who wouldn’t vote in favor of cutting taxes? Everyone would like to pay less in taxes. Everyone I know would also like better schools, better roads and better infrastructure. These two conflicting ideas are at loggerheads and epitomize the basic conflict in governing: balancing needs and wants, with reasonable taxing to acquire the money to fulfill reasonable expectations. Clearly the government cannot spend without restraint, and clearly, it cannot cut taxes to the point it cannot fill the necessary needs of the community. Instead of making broad general statements, candidates should, with some degree of specificity, tell us their plan! Don’t tell us you will cut waste, without being specific where the cuts lie.
I will vote. I hope my friends and neighbors’ vote. When the election is over, let us accept the results and attempt to work together to govern wisely and purposely for the good of all. Let us act as a community, accepting our differences and working to understand each other. That is truly the American way. I have my fingers crossed.
Thought for the day: “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.” Abraham Lincoln
Until next time…I will keep ridin’ the storm out.